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S. 6. & E. L. ELBERT 

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The Progress of Religious Ideas, 

Through Successive Ages. 3 vols. 12mo. $4. 

"My motive for writing has been a very simple one; I wished to show that 
theology is not religion, with the hope that I might help to break down parti- 
tion walls; to ameliorate what the eloquent Bushnell calls '■baptized hatreds of 
the human race. 1 * * * Those who wish to obtain candid information, with- 
out caring whether it does or does not sustain any favourite theory of their own 
may perhaps thank me for saving them the trouble of searching through large 
and learned volumes ; and if they complain of want of profoundness, they may 
be willing to accept simplicity and clearness in exchange for depth." 








God sends his teachers unto every age, 

To every clime, and every race of men, 

"With revelations fitted to their growth 

And shape of mind, nor gives the realm of Truth 

Into the selfish rule of one sole race: 

Therefore, each form of worship that hath swayed 

The life of man, and given it to grasp 

The master-key of knowledge, Reverence, 

Enfolds some germs of goodness and of right. 

J. E. Lowell. 


VOL. I. 

|Uto fnrfe: 




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by 

C. S. Francis and Company, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of New York. 




Preface vu 


Antiquity of Hindostan, 2. Anchorites, from 4 to 10. Pantheism, 10. 
Gods and Goddesses, from 10 to 18. Sacred Emblems, 16, 94. Bramins, 
20 to 24; 47, 120, 132, 133. Castes, 19, 34, 89, 117. Transmigration, 
24 to 26 ; 114. Heavens and Hells, 26 to 30. Sacred Books, 31 to 76. 
Crishna, 52 ; 60 to 74. Bouddha, 83 to 87. Sects, 57 to 93. Temples, 
93 to 104. Holy Cities, 105 to 108. Festivals, 108, 126. Hindoo Wo- 
men, 109 to 113. Sacred Animals, 114 to 116. Degeneracy of Hindoos, 
117. Fakeers, 118. Magic, 122. Nadae Shah, 91. Narayun Powar, 
127. Ranimohun Roy, 135. 

EGYPT 139 

Ethiopians, 139. Resemblances between Hindoos and Egyptians, 141 to 
144; 183, 191. Ancient travellers to Egypt, 145. Antiquity of Egypt, 
146, 148, 188. Hieroglyphics deciphered, 147. Gods and Goddesses, 
149 to 157 ; 145. Heavens and Hells, 158 to 161. Castes, 161, 195. 
Priesthood, 163 to 168. Egyptian Women, 168, 195. Oracles, 141, 168. 
Transmigration, 158, 160. Festivals, 169 to 172. Sacred Books, 173 to 
176. Pantheism, 175, 195. Sacred Animals, 176 to 180. Sects, 180. 
Temples, 182 to 194; 196. Pyramids, 140, 142, 188. Alexandria, 196. 

CHINA 199 

Antiquity of China, 199. Confucius, 200 to 205. Lao-tseu, 213. Sacred 
Books, 205 to 214 ; 221. Religion of Fo, the Chinese name for Boud- 
dha, 215, 217. Lamaism, 216. Transmigration, 219. 



Famous Buddhist Hermit, 221. Lamaism, 223. Lamas, 224, 231 to 238. 
Grand Lama, 223, 240, 241. Sacred Books, 222, 248. Lamaseries, or 
Monasteries, 224, 226 to 242. Anchorites, 228. Caste abolished, 225. 
Prayer-wheels, 236. Temples, 242 to 244. Buddhist Worship, 244. 
Pantheism, 246. Transmigration, 247. Heavens and Hells, 230, 24*7. 
Sects, 249. Date of Buddhist Religion, 250. Its rapid extension, 251. 


Antiquity of Chaldea, 252. Resemblances between Chaldea, Hindostan, 
and Egypt, 253. Priesthood, 254. Magic, 254. Gods and Goddesses, 
255. Temple, 255. 


Zoroaster, 256 to 259. The Sacred Book called Zend-Avesta, 258 to 269. 
Gods and Spirits, 259 to 261. The Magi, 269 to 273. Sects, 273. Fire- 
worshippers, 275 to 279. Devil-worshippers, 279 to 283. 


Hesiod, 286. Homer, 287. Gods and Goddesses, 289 to 295. Heaven 
and HelL 296. Priesthood, 298 to 301 ; 306. "Women, 300. Modes 
of Worship, 301 to 314. Festivals, 308 to 314. Oracles and Prophecy, 
314 to 322. Temples, 323 to 330. Sects of Philosophy, 330, 367. 
Orpheus, 333. Pythagoras, 335 to 342. Socrates, 344 to 352. Plato, 
352 to 363. Resemblances between Hindoo, Egyptian, and Grecian 
Ideas, 289 to 291; 363. Aristotle, 364. Cicero, 365. Stoics, 367. 
Decline of Faith, 370. 


Druids, 374 to 380. Women, 377. 

JEWS 381 

Abraham, 381 to 387. Patriarchs, 387 to 390. Moses, 391 to 395. 
Manetho, 393. Resemblances between Egyptian and Hebrew Ideas, 
396 to 401. The Laws and Writings of Moses, 402 to 411. Joshua, 411. 
Gideon, 415. Frequent Appearance of Angels, 384, 387, 416. Priest- 
hood, 405, 421. Idolatry, 414 to 418 ; 439 to 449. Times of the Judges, 
414 to 422. Samuel, 421 to 425. David, 425 to 431. The Temple, 
427, 431 to 438 ; 449. Solomon, 431 to 440. Kingdoms of Israel and 
Judah, 440. Book of the Law, 447. The Kings after Solomon, 440 to 
449. Exile to Babylon, 449. 


■+ »» 

I would candidly advise persons who are conscious of bigoted attach- 
ment to any creed, or theory, not to purchase this hook. Whether 
they are bigoted Christians, or bigoted infidels, its tone will be likely 
to displease them. 

My motive in writing has been a very simple one. I wished to 
show that theology is not religion ; with the hope that I might help to 
break down partition walls ; to ameliorate what the eloquent Bush- 
nell calls " baptized hatreds of the human race." In order to do this, 
I have endeavoured to give a concise and comprehensive account of 
religions, in the liberal spirit of the motto on my title page. The pe- 
riod embraced in my plan extends from the most ancient Hindoo re- 
cords, to the complete establishment of the Catholic church. 

While my mind was yet in its youth, I was offended by the manner 
in which Christian writers usually describe other religions ; for I ob- 
served that they habitually covered apparent contradictions and absurd- 
ities, in Jewish or Christian writings, with a veil of allegories and 
mystical interpretation, while the records of all other religions were 
unscrupulously analyzed, or contemptuously described as " childish 
fables," or " filthy superstitions." I was well aware that this was 
done unconsciously, under the influence of habitual reverence for 
early teaching ; and I was still more displeased with the scoffing tone 
of sceptical writers, who regarded all religions as founded on impos- 
ture. Either way, the one-sidedness of the representation troubled 
my strong sense of justice. I recollect wishing, long ago, that I could 
become acquainted with some good, intelligent Bramin, or Moham- 
medan, that I might learn, in some degree, how their religions ap- 
peared to them. This feeling expanded within me, until it took form 
in this book. The facts it contains are very old ; the novelty it claims 
is the point of view from which those facts are seen and presented. I 


have treated all religions with reverence, and shown no more favour 
to one than to another. I have exhibited each one in the light of its 
own Sacred Books ; and in giving quotations, I have aimed in every 
case to present impartially the beauties and the blemishes. I have 
honestly tried never to exaggerate merits, or conceal defects. I have 
not declared that any system was true, or that any one was false. I 
have even avoided the use of the word heathen ; for though harmless 
in its original signification, it is used in a way that implies conde- 
scension, or contempt ; and such a tone is inconsistent with the per- 
fect impartiality I have wished to observe. I have tried to place 
each form of worship in its own light ; that is, as it appeared to those 
who sincerely believed it to be of divine origin. But even this candid 
method must necessarily produce a very imperfect picture, drawn as 
it is by a modern mind, so foreign to ancient habits of thought, and 
separated from them by the lapse of ages. The process has been ex- 
ceedingly interesting ; for the history of the religious sentiment, strug- 
gling through theological mazes, furnishes the most curious chapter in 
the strange history of mankind. 

I offer the results of my investigations with extreme timidity. Not 
because I am afraid of public opinion ; for I have learned to place ex- 
ceedingly little value on anything the world can give, or take away. 
But I have been oppressed with anxiety, lest I should not perform the 
important task I had undertaken in the right spirit and the most ju- 
dicious manner. I have conscientiously tried to do it with great care, 
fearless truthfulness, perfect candour, reverence toward God, and ten- 
derness for human nature. I have sought out facts diligently, and 
stated them plainly ; leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions 
freely, uninfluenced by suggestions from me. The inferences deduced 
from my statements will vary according to the predominance of the 
reverential, or the rationalistic element in character. I have con- 
tented myself with patiently digging out information from books old 
and new, and presenting it with all the clearness and all the honesty 
of which I am capable. To write with the unbiassed justice at which 
I aimed, I was obliged to trample under my feet the theological under- 
brush, which always tangles and obstructs the path, when the soul 
strives to be guided only by the mild bright star of religious sentiment. 
It is never pleasant to walk directly through and over the opinions of 
the age in which one lives. I have not done it sarcastically, as if I 
despised them ; because such is not my feeling. I have done it in a 
straight-forward quiet way, as if I were unconscious of their exist- 
ence. I foresee that many good and conscientious people will con- 
eider it a great risk to treat religious history in this manner. Jf I 


could have avoided giving them pain, and at the same time have 
written with complete impartiality, I would most gladly have done 
so. For myself, I have firm faith that plain statements of truth can 
never eventually prove injurious, on any subject. 

Milton has expressed this conviction with rare eloquence : " Though 
all the winds of doctrine he let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth 
be in the field, we do injuriously to doubt her strength. Let her and 
falsehood grapple. Who ever knew Truth put to the worse by a free 
and open encounter 3 Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puis- 
sant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking 
her invincible locks. Methinks I see her as an eagle muing her 
mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day 
beam ; purging and unsealing her long abused sight at the fountain 
itself of heavenly radiance ; while the whole noise of timorous 
flocking birds, with those also who love the twilight, flutter about, 
amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble would prog- 
nosticate a year of sects and schisms. What would ye do then? 
Should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge, sprung up, and 
yet daily springing up 1 Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers 
over it, to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know 
nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel 1 Believe it, they 
who counsel you to such suppressing, do as good as bid you to suppress 

If scholars should read this book, they may perchance smile at its 
extreme simplicity of style. But I have written for the popular mind, 
not for the learned. I have therefore aimed principally at conciseness 
and clearness. I have recorded dates, and explained phrases, sup- 
posed to be generally understood, because I know there are many in- 
telligent readers not familiar with such dates and phrases, and who 
cannot conveniently refer to cyclopedias, or lexicons. I am aware of 
having inserted very many things, which are perfectly well known to 
everybody. But this was unavoidable, in order to present a continu- 
ous whole, from the same point of view. Doubtless, a learned person 
could have performed the task far better, in many respects ; but on 
some accounts, my want of learning is an advantage. Thoughts do 
not range so freely, when the store-room of the brain is overloaded 
with furniture. In the course of my investigations, I have frequently 
observed that a great amount of erudition becomes a veil of thick 
clouds between the subject and the reader. Moreover, learned men 
can rarely have such freedom from any sectarian bias, as the circum- 
stances of my life have produced in me. 

It is now more than eight years since I first began this task. Had I 



foreseen how far my little boat would carry me out to sea, I certainly 
should not have undertaken the voyage. Unexpected impediments in- 
terrupted the labour during three years ; but even then my thoughts 
and my reading were continually directed toward it. I have been 
diligent and patient in procuring and comparing facts, from sources 
deemed perfectly authentic, and I have been scrupulously conscien- 
tious in the statement of them. I may have made mistakes ; for it is 
not easy to arrive at the exact truth amid a mass of obscure and often 
contradictory statements. But I have done my best ; and if there are 
errors, they have not proceeded from intention, or from carelessness. 
I have not asked any person what I should say, or how I should say 
it. My natural love of freedom resisted such procedure ; and foresee- 
ing that I might incur unpopularity, I was unwilling to implicate others. 
I have, therefore, merely stated to learned men, and women, that I 
wished for information on specified subjects, and inquired of them 
what were the best books to be consulted. I have sometimes con- 
densed quotations, for the sake of brevity, but I have never misquoted, 
or misrepresented. 

I am not aware that any one, who truly reverenced the spirit of 
Christianity, has ever before tried the experiment of placing it pre- 
cisely on a level with other religions, so far as the manner of repre- 
sentation is concerned. Even wise and candid men, more or less 
unconsciously, adopt a system of withholding evidence on one side, 
and accumulating it on the other ; as the most honest lawyers do, 
when pleading a cause. The followers of all religions practise self- 
deception of this kind. They forget that most human beings would 
seem great and holy, in comparison with others, if all the weaknesses 
were carefully concealed on one side, and protruded into prominence 
on the other ; if all the excellences were rendered conspicuous on 
one side, and kept out of sight on the other. I have tried to avoid this 
tendency. 1 have given beautiful extracts from PI atonic philosophers, 
and from Christian Fathers. I have portrayed the benevolence of 
bishops, without veiling their ambition, or intolerance. I have not 
eulogized any doctrines as true, or stigmatized any as false. I have 
simply said so it was argued, and thus it was decided. I knew of no 
other method by which complete impartiality could be attained. 

Some may consider the sketches of Apollonius, Philo, Cerinthus, 
Plotinus, and others, as irrelevant to the history of Christianity. But 
in order to trace the progress of religious ideas, it was necessary to de- 
scribe the prominent characters, and external influences, which modi- 
fied their growth ; for the surrounding spiritual atmosphere affects the 
formation of all opinions. I have therefore endeavoured to show what 


degree of preparation there was, in the Jewish and Gentile world, for 
the coming of Christianity, and then what kind of resistance it met, in- 
ternally and externally. I may have misunderstood some theological 
statements ; for it is not easy to draw a continuous thread from the 
tangled skein of polemical controversy ; which constantly reminds me 
of the Scotch definition of metaphysics : ." It is ane mon expleening to 
anither what he dinna weel understand himsel." 

The perfect openness with which I have revealed many particulars 
generally kept in the back ground, will trouble some devotional 
people, whose feelings I would not willingly wound. But I place 
great reliance on sincerity, and have strong faith in the power of gen- 
uine Christianity to stand on its own internal merits, unaided by con- 
cealment. My own mind has long been desirous to ascertain the 
plain unvarnished truth on all these subjects ; and having sought it 
out, I felt prompted to impart it to those who were in a similar state. 
Those who wish to obtain candid information, without caring whether 
it does, or does not, sustain any favourite theory of their own, may 
perhaps thank me for saving them the trouble of searching through 
large and learned volumes for scattered items of information ; and if 
they complain of want of profoundness, they may perchance be wil- 
ling to accept simplicity and clearness in exchange for depth. In 
order to do justice to the book, if read at all, it ought not to be glanced 
at here and there, but read carefully from the beginning to the end ; 
because the links of a continuous chain are preserved throughout. 

Constant reference to authorities would have loaded the pages with 
notes, and unpleasantly interrupted the reading. I have therefore 
given, at the end of the volume, a list of the principal books I have 
used, which can be examined by any one who doubts the accuracy 
of my statements. 

Sustained by- conscious integrity of purpose, and having executed 
my task faithfully, according to the best of my ability, I quietly leave 
the book to its fate, whether it be neglect, censure, or praise. 




4 ♦ ► 


"The countries of the far East had also their age of glory. At their 
fire was lighted a torch, which passing from the hands of Egyptians to 
the hands of Jews, and from the hands of Jews to the hands of Christians, 
still casts its gleams upon the earth." 

The name of this country was derived from one of its 
principal rivers. Stan signifies land ; hence it came to be 
called Indus-Stan, land of the Indus. Hindoos themselves 
called it by a name signifying " The Central Land ;" some- 
times it was designated as " The Land of Righteousness." 
Within the last century their literature has attracted much 
attention, and the careful investigations of Oriental scholars 
prove them to have been a civilized people at a period ex- 
tremely remote. In times coeval with the earliest authentic 
records, they could calculate eclipses, and were venerated 
for their attainments in several arts and sciences. Some 
of their very ancient buildings contain the twelve signs of 
the zodiac, represented by almost precisely the same em- 
blems now in use among us. According to the learned 
astronomer, M. Bailly, their observations of the heavenly 

Vol. L— 1 a 


bodies may be dated as far back as four thousand nine 
hundred and fifty years. The Sanscrit language, in which 
their Sacred Books are written, is of such remote antiquity, 
that no tradition remains of any people by whom it was 
originally spoken ; and their mythological sculptures, cov- 
ering immense masses of rock, are said to be " works 
which make the pyramids of Egypt seem young." 

The Hindoos believed themselves to have been the first 
inhabitants of this earth ; and their traditions place the 
creation of the world many millions of years farther back 
than we do. First, there was an age of purity, called the 
Satya Yug, when men lived to an immense age, and were 
more than thirty feet high. They were too innocent to 
have need of government, and so unselfish that all the 
goods of life were equally distributed. 

" Delightful times ! because 
Nature then reigned, and Nature's laws ; 
And this grand truth from none was hidden, 
"What pleaseth hath no law forbidden." 

A great Deluge swept away all the memorials of this age. 
In the second age, called Treta Yug, men began to be 
vicious. The term of their existence was much shortened, 
and Brahma gave them rajahs, or princes, to rule over 
them. In the third age, called the Dwapar Yug, vice and 
virtue became equally mingled, and the lives of men were 
again shortened one third. The fourth age, called the Cali 
Yug, though much shorter than the others in duration, is 
to embrace a term of four hundred and thirty-two thousand 
years. According to their Sacred Books, it commenced 
about five thousand years ago, when there was a remark- 
able conjunction of the planets. In this age, the longest 
term of man's life is limited to one hundred years, and his 
stature, already greatly diminished, will be gradually re- 
duced to pigmy size. Wickedness will more and more 
abound till the end comes. 

Hindoos have no history to sustain these dates, eom« 
prising such enormous intervals of time. Lists of kings, 


preserved in various parts of the country, have been cal- 
culated to go back between four and five thousand years. 

It is a recognized fact that some individuals have tem- 
peraments more inclined than others to veneration and 
mysticism ; and the remark is equally applicable to nations. 
The Hindoos are peculiarly ardent and susceptible, and as 
usual with such organizations, they have strong devotional 
tendencies. We find their wise men of ancient time neg- 
lecting historical records, and paying comparatively slight 
attention to the external sciences, but meditating earnestly, 
in the loneliness of stately forests, on the origin and des- 
tiny of the human soul. Ecstatic delight in nature, exu- 
berant wealth of imagination, a pervading reverence for 
the supernatural, characterize every department of their 
literature. The same religious impress is on their history. 
They have been patient and docile under every foreign 
yoke, so long as they were unmolested in usages deemed 
sacred ; but the moment there was any interference with 
devotional practices, they were roused at once, and defended 
them with the ferocity of tigers. 

The first question which perplexed the old sages of 
India, standing as they did on the threshold of time, was 
one which no subtilty of human intellect has yet been 
able to solve. They asked, Whence came Evil ? Con- 
ceiving, as we do, that the Great First Cause of all things 
must be good, they knew not how to account for disease 
and wickedness. They did not ascribe them to a Bad 
Spirit, almost- as powerful as God himself; but they sup- 
posed that Matter was Evil, and that the union of Spirit 
with Matter was the origin of all sin, sickness, and sorrow. 
This visible world, including mortal bodies, they regarded 
as mere phantasmagoria, without any reality; a magic- 
lantern show, by which the Divine Mind, for inscrutable 
purposes, deludes us into the belief that we are independent 
existences, and that the things around us are real. Hence 
they called creation Maya, or Illusion. 

This theological theory, acting on temperaments natu- 
rally plaintive and poetic, produced melancholy views of 


life, and a strong inclination toward religious ecstasy; while 
at the same time warmth of climate and facility of procur- 
ing sustenance predisposed to lassitude and gentle reverie. 
In times ancient beyond conjecture, there were men among 
them who withdrew altogether from the labours and pleas- 
ures of the world, and in solitary places devoted them- 
selves entirely to religious contemplation. This lonely 
existence on the silent mountains, or amid the darkness 
of immense forests, infested by serpents and wild beasts, 
and as they believed by Evil Spirits also, greatly excited 
popular imagination. The human soul, unsatisfied in its 
cage of finite limitation, is always aspiring after the good 
and the true, always eagerly hoping for messengers from 
above, and therefore prone to believe in them. Thus these 
saintly hermits came to be objects of extreme veneration 
among the people. Men travelled far to inquire of them 
how sins might be expiated, or diseases cured ; for it was 
believed that in thus devoting themselves to a life beyond 
the tumult of the passions, occupied solely with penance 
and prayer, they approached very near to God, and re- 
ceived direct revelations of his divine wisdom. 

In the beginning, these anchorites were doubtless influ- 
enced by sincere devotion, and made honest efforts to attain 
what seemed to them the highest standard of purity and 
holiness. Their mode of life was simple and austere in 
the extreme. They lived in caverns, or under the shelter 
of a few boughs, which they twisted together in the 
shadow of some great tree. Their furniture consisted 
merely of an antelope skin to sleep on, a vase to receive 
alms, a pitcher for water, a basket to gather roots and 
wild berries, a hatchet to cut wood for sacrifices, a staff to 
help them through the forest, and a rosary made of lotus 
seeds, to assist in repeating their numerous prayers. The 
beard and nails were suffered to grow, and to avoid trouble 
with their hair, it was twisted into peculiar knots, resem 
bling the close curls of an African. In later times, they 
shaved their heads, probably from motives of cleanliness. 
However high might have been their caste in the society 


of the world, they retained no ornament, or badge of dis- 
tinction. They wore simply a coarse yellowish red gar- 
ment made of the fibres of bark. Their food consisted 
of wild roots, fruit, and grain; and of these they must 
eat merely enough to sustain life. They might receive 
food as alms, or even ask for it, in cases of extreme ne- 
cessity; but they must strive to attain such a state of 
indifference, that they felt no regret if refused, and no 
pleasure if they received it. They were bound to the 
most rigid chastity, in thought as well as deed. So far as 
they coveted the slightest pleasure from any of the senses, 
so far were they from their standard of perfect sanctity. 
Some made a vow of continual silence, and kept a skull 
before them to remind them constantly of death. Their 
occupations were to cut wood for sacrifices by fire; to 
gather roots and berries for daily food, deducting a portion 
to be offered on the altars ; to recite prayers three times a 
day, morning, noon, and evening, always preceded by 
ablution ; to repeat sacred sentences ; to go through daily 
ceremonies for the spirits of departed ancestors ; to offer 
sacrifices at the new moon and full moon, at morning and 
evening twilight. 

In addition to this routine, they prescribed to themselves 
tasks more or less severe, according to the degree of holi- 
ness they wished to attain, or had courage to pursue. 
Some faste'd to the very verge of dissolution. In summer 
they exposed themselves to the scorching sun, or sur- 
rounded themselves with fires. In winter they wore wet 
garments, or stood up to the chin in water. They went 
forth uncovered amid frightful tempests. They stood for 
hours and days on the point of their toes, with arms 
stretched upward, motionless as a tree. They sat on their 
heels, closing their ears tight with their thumbs, their eyes 
with the forefingers, their nostrils with the middle fingers, 
and their lips with the little fingers; in this attitude they 
remained holding their breath till they often fell into a swoon. 

These terrible self-torments resulted from their belief 
that this life was merely intended for expiation ; that the 
Vol. I.— 1* 


body was an incumbrance, and the senses entirely evil \ 
that relations to outward things entangled the soul in 
temptation and sin ; that man's great object should be to 
withdraw himself entirely from Nature, and thus become 
completely absorbed in the eternal Soul of the Universe, 
from which his own soul originally emanated. 

Penances undertaken for sins committed were supposed 
to procure no other advantage than the remission of future 
punishment for those sins; but sufferings voluntarily in- 
curred, merely to annihilate the body, and attain nearness 
to the divine nature, were believed to extort miraculous 
gifts from supernatural beings, and ultimately enable man 
to become God. 

Aiming at this state of perfection, they gradually at- 
tained complete indifference to all external things. They 
no longer experienced desire or disappointment, hope or 
fear, joy or sorrow. Some of them went entirely naked, 
and were reputed to subsist merely on water. The world 
was to them as though it did not exist. In this state the 
words they uttered were considered divine revelations. 
They were believed to know everything by intuition ; to 
read the mysteries of past, present, and future ; to perceive 
the thoughts of whoever came into their presence ; to 
move from one place to another by simply willing to do 
so ; to cure diseases, and even raise the dead. . Some of 
this marvellous power was supposed to be imparted even 
to the garments they wore, and the staffs with which they 
walked. The Hindoo Sacred Writings are filled with all 
manner of miracles performed by these saints. There 
are traditions that some of them were taken up alive to 
heaven ; and impressions on the rocks are shown, said to 
be footprints they left when they ascended. By extraor- 
dinary purification and suffering, some were reputed to 
have obtained such power, even over the gods, that they 
could compel them to grant whatever they asked. For 
this reason it was supposed the deities were not well 
pleased when a hermit vowed himself to remarkable 
efforts ; and they strove to seduce him from his purpose 


by all manner of temptations. Hindoo poems abound 
with legends of beautiful nymphs sent on such missions, 
and often proving successful. The holy hermit Visvami- 
tra was so fascinated by the nymph Menaka, that five 
years passed in her society seemed to him but a single 
moment. "Alas!" exclaimed he, "what has become of 
my wisdom, my penitence, my firm resolution ? Behold 
all destroyed at once by a woman I Seduced by the sin 
which pleased Indra, I see myself deprived of the advan- 
tages I had gained by all my austerities." 

But the mission of these nymphs was a dangerous one 
for themselves also ; for if the holy recluse did withstand 
their attractions, and pronounce a curse upon them, his 
words must inevitably take effect, however terrible they 
might be. Thus the nymph Eambha, striving to seduce 
Yisvamitra, was, by the force of his imprecations, changed 
to a pillar of stone for a thousand years. The most power- 
ful kings feared the malediction of these highly sanctified 
mortals, and sought their blessing as the greatest earthly 
good. One of the sacred legends thus describes the recep- 
tion given to some of these celebrated anchorites, by the 
king of Lilipa: — "Penetrated with inexpressible joy and 
reverence, he bowed his face to the earth before them. 
Having caused them to be seated, he washed their feet, 
drank a portion of the water, and poured the remainder 
on his head. Joining his hands upon his forehead, he 
made a profound obeisance, and thus addressed them : — 
1 The happiness I this day enjoy can only be in reward for 
some good works I have performed in a previous state of 
existence. I possess all desirable good in seeing }^our 
sacred feet. My body is now perfectly pure, since I have 
had the happiness to behold you. You are the gods whom 
I serve. I recognize no others but you. Henceforth, I am 
as pure as the waters of Granges.' " 

The site chosen for hermitages was usually in the midst 
of picturesque scenery, on the side of mountains com- 
manding an extensive prospect, or amid the cool shadows 
of majestic groves. It was considered peculiarly desirable 


to be near the meeting of two sacred rivers, for the per- 
formance of prescribed ablutions and ceremonies. A very 
ancient sacred poem, called The Mahabharata, contains the 
following description of a traveller in the forest approach- 
ing one of these holy places :— " The distant cry of deer, 
the song of birds, the hum of bees, resounded gently in 
his ear, and conveyed to his soul an inexpressible feeling 
of calm happiness. Graceful trees bent under the weight 
of fruits and flowers. Their flexible branches balanced 
themselves to the breath of the breeze, which, in passing, 
took from them the sweetest fragrance, and spread it 
through the atmosphere. On the enamelled turf, troops 
of Grandharvas* and Asparas,f brilliant with youth, pur- 
sued each other in frolicksome play, gliding from space to 
space, as light shadows. He was bewildered with delight 
under the immense bowers of verdure, through which 
quivering rays of the sun penetrated with gentle light, and 
gave only warmth enough to temper the freshness of their 
deep shadows. Plunged in soothing reverie, his uncertain 
steps wandered toward a spot where all the beauties of the 
scene united. The river Malini rippled and played with 
many couples of brilliantly white swans, and on its 
borders he perceived a sacred grove, which he conjectured 
might be the retreat of some holy personage. This happy 
corner of the earth did in fact enclose a peaceful hermitage 
within its bosom." 

These hermits, in obedience to the injunctions of Hindoo 
religion, imparted freely of all they had to men and 
animals. Thus their places of retreat came to be con- 
sidered open asylums for the poor, and for travellers. The 
saints were gradually classified into different orders, bear- 
ing various names, indicating progressive degrees of sanc- 
tity ; such as, " the dweller in the forest," "the man vowed 
to contemplation," " the man who has subdued himself," 
11 the man who is absorbed into the Divine Soul." The 

* Musicians of the air, the Spirits of Singing Stars. 
f Nymphs who dance and sing in Paradise. 


more a hermit was renowned for holiness, the greater num- 
ber of disciples he attracted toward him; till in many 
places his solitary grotto, or hut, came to be surrounded by 
a small village of rude huts. Younger men, who sought 
him for instruction, were bound to treat him with unlimited 
reverence, and implicitly obey all his injunctions. Thus 
something resembling monasteries, or theological schools, 
was established in the forests of Hindostan, at a very remote 
period of antiquity. Seven of the most ancient of these 
hermits, peculiarly renowned for wisdom and holiness, 
transmitted their privileges to descendants, and thus became 
the germ of seven classes in an hereditary priesthood still 
existing under the name of Brahmins. 

There were many hermits not vowed to their ascetic 
vocation for life. It was common for men who had com- 
mitted crimes to retire into the forest for a certain number 
of months, or years, and undergo painful penances, to 
escape future punishment for their faults, and be restored 
to society with renovated character. Sometimes kings, 
who had been dethroned by conquest, or merchants who 
had lost their wealth, retired from the world and performed 
sacrifices to regain their lost fortune. This course was 
respected as pious and meritorious ; but it was deemed a 
great sin for such men to represent themselves as belong- 
ing to the class of voluntary saints. They often became 
so attached to their secluded life, that they were reluctant 
to return to the world, when the period of their vow had 
expired. One of them is represented as thus bidding fare- 
well to Ifis retreat : — " Oh, mountain, perpetual asylum of 
holy hermits, who have given themselves up to the medi- 
tation of virtue, and the practice of pure works ! Oh, king 
of mountains, rich in purifying streams, adieu ! I have 
passed happy days upon thy heights. I have nourished 
myself with the delicious fruits thou hast produced, and 
have quenched my thirst with the clear waters that flow 
from thy summit. Oh, mountain pure from sin ! Like 
unto a living child happy on the breast of his father, have 
I enjoyed myself upon thy bosom, peopled with groups 



of Nymphs, and resounding with praises of Brahma." 
The most spiritual portion of the Hindoo Sacred Books 
teach the existence of one invisible God, whom they call 
Brahm. They make no images of him, and build no 
temples for his worship. His name is never uttered by a 
pious Hindoo. None of their traditions represent him as 
incarnated in any form ; because they believe him to be 
entirely above human comprehension, and altogether in- 
capable of the slightest change in his existence. Nature 
is the inferior, passive portion of him. " Brahm and Nature 
are one, as the soul and body of man are one. All things 
emanate from him, all is he, and all returns to him. As 
plants grow out of the earth and return to it again, so does 
everything in the universe emanate from this divine 
essence, subsist continually by it, and finally return to it." 
This law of alternate emanation and absorption governs 
all things, from a musquito up to planets, and celestial 
Spirits. Their vast divisions of time, called Yugs, are 
founded on the apparent revolution of the fixed stars. 
Four of these Yugs, including millions of our years, form 
their Great Astronomical Year. When this period is com- 
pleted, their Sacred Books declare that the god Siva, with 
ten Spirits of Dissolution, will roll a comet under the 
moon, set the earth on fire, and reduce it all to ashes. 
After a time the elements will resume their order, and the 
world, restored to pristine beauty, will again pass through 
a similar succession of Yugs. One thousand of these great 
cycles form only a single day in the life of Brahma, the 
Creator, who was the first Spirit that emanated from 
Brahm. At the end of this long day, he falls asleep ; and 
then not only this earth, but all things in the universe, dis- 
solve into their original elements. His night is of the 
same immense duration as his day. "When he wakes up 
the universe is renewed, to travel through a similar course, 
and again arrive at universal dissolution. Thirty such 
days make one month of Brahma; twelve months his 
year ; a hundred such years his age ; of which they assert 
fifty have already elapsed. When the other half of this 


destined term is completed, he himself will be again 
absorbed in Brahm ; Matter will be totally annihilated, 
and the invisible Supreme Being, called Brahm, will alone 
exist. After another vast period there will commence a 
new series of emanations of gods, subordinate spirits, 
worlds, men, and inferior existences. 

This idea of God in all things, and all things in God, is 
called Pantheism, from Greek words signifying God in 
All. When the mind is strongly impressed with this 
belief, and conscientiously acts upon it, the effect is great 
tenderness toward animals, and reverence for Nature; 
because the minutest form of being is regarded as a por- 
tion of Deity. Thus the Hindoo saint extends hospitality 
alike to friends and enemies. When he eats, he shares 
his food with whatever creature presents itself. He re- 
frains from honey, from reluctance to deprive bees of their 
nourishment. He will not eat flesh, because he shrinks 
from causing the death of any animal. He avoids lighting 
a candle at night lest insects should be drawn into the 
flame ; and he filters the water he drinks, lest he should 
incautiously swallow some creature. He will not even 
pluck fruit with violence, but eats only such as falls of 
itself, because in trees and bushes also he beholds living 
beings, portions of the Universal Soul. 

They believe that all life, whether in essence or form, 
proceeds constantly from Brahm, through a variety of 
mediums. If any creature imagines for a moment that he 
has existence In himself, out of the Divinity, it is the effect 
of magical illusion, by which Brahma himself, for incom- 
prehensible reasons, takes captive his senses. 

The action of Brahm upon Nature, and upon human 
souls, is through a variety of Spirits, presiding over the 
planets, the elements, and all the forces of Nature. All 
in the scale of being are emanations from him, in success- 
ive gradations. The highest of these emanations are 
Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Siva, the 
Destroyer, who is likewise the Reproducer of forms. 
Brahma is represented in poetry, and in painted sculpture, 


as a golden-coloured human figure, with three heads and 
four arms. He is never described as assuming the form of 
any of the inferior orders of beings, or as living upon the 
earth in a visible body. His name is held in exceeding 
reverence, ' and none but the Brahmins utter it. They 
make daily invocations to him, and sometimes offer him a 
flower. No sect of worshippers bears his name, and no 
temples or festivals are appropriated to him. This may 
be because his high rank inspires awe, and seems to carry 
him beyond the range of human sympathies ; or it may 
be that his work as Creator being finished, mortals do not 
feel the need of his interference. He is represented as in- 
habiting a magnificent temple, called Dheira, near the Sea 
of Milk, in the upper celestial regions. Thither Vishnu, 
and other deities, repair in emergencies, to consult his 
oracle ; but the response becomes audible only after days 
of devotion and prayer. All seems to indicate that Brah- 
ma was the expression of a more spiritual idea, than the 
other deities. 

Poets and sculptors represent Yishnu as a handsome 
young man of blue complexion, with four arms. One 
holds a shell, another a lotus blossom, another a mace, 
another a ring, which radiates a stream of light. He is 
clothed in yellow, with a jewelled crown, and a necklace 
of gems. "When asleep, he floats on the surface of the 
ocean, cradled in the folds of the huge star-covered ser- 
pent Seshanaga, whose thousand heads serve him for a 
pillow. He has a multitude of names, and is represented 
in a great variety* of ways. He seems much nearer to the 
human heart than Brahma ; for his power and mercy are 
supposed to be .constantly exerted to uphold the universe, 
to prevent calamity, and relieve distress. He is revered 
as a household god, and is invoked to avert family misfor- 
tunes, or to obtain blessings when about to occupy a new 
dwelling. He is believed to have been repeatedly incar- 
nated on earth, for beneficent purposes. His beautiful 
wife Lacshmi on such occasions assumes a female form and 
accompanies him among mortals, till Ms mission is com- 


pleted. No Woody sacrifices are offered to him, but obla- 
tions of fruit, flowers, water, clarified butter, sweetmeats, 
rich garments, and jewels. 

Siva has a vast variety of titles, among which the most 
common is Maha Deva, the Great God. The sculptures 
represent him in many different ways ; but he may always 
be known by certain symbols that belong to him. He is 
sometimes painted red, sometimes silver-coloured : seated 
on a tiger's skin, and clothed with an elephant's hide. 
Sometimes he rides on a white bull, his eyes inflamed with 
intoxication. Sometimes he is painted with one head, 
sometimes with five ; always with three eyes, one in the 
middle of his forehead. Sometimes he is represented as 
half man and half woman. As the reproducer of forms, 
he is usually accompanied by the male Emblem of Gene- 
ration. As a personification of time, the Destroyer, he is a 
dusky youth, with red garments, a chaplet of sculls about 
his neck, and a trident in his hand. Because he repro- 
duces forms, as well as destroys them, he is often painted 
with the venomous serpent Cobra de Capello, emblem of 
death, in one hand, and a Lotus and Pomegranate, emblems 
of renovation, in the other. 

Hindoos, accustomed to the pomp and retinue of their 
earthly princes, assigned a vast number of agents to supe- 
rior deities. Indra, God of the Firmament, is represented 
as a beautiful youth, whose garment is covered with eyes, 
to represent the all-seeing Spirits of the Stars. He rides 
on a white elephant, and is armed with a thunderbolt. 
Three hundred and thirty-two millions of Spirits, divided 
into classes, of various ranks and employments, acknow- 
ledge him as their leader. Poets and painters represent 
Surya, God of the Sun, in a golden car, drawn by seven 
green horses, with the Dawn for charioteer, followed by 
Spirits of Singing Stars chanting his praises. There are 
various legends of his descending to earth in a human 
shape, and becoming the father of a numerous progeny. 
Two of his sons are always painted as Twins, said to have 
been born of a mare impregnated by sunbeams. The 
Vol. I.— 2 


Moon is a male deity, sometimes called Soma, but more 
frequently Chandra. Their most ancient sovereigns were 
called Surya-bans and Chandra- bans, Children of the Sun 
and Moon, to imply a descent nearer to the gods than that 
of other mortals. Genesa, God of Wisdom, is greatly re- 
vered. They never build a house, or commence any im- 
portant business, without offering him flowers, or sprin- 
kling his image with oil. They do not even write a letter, 
or open a book, without uttering a brief invocation to him. 
He is painted with an elephant's head, and is always at- 
tended by a rat, which they consider a very sagacious and 
prudent animal. Nareda, God of Music, who invented the 
vina, or Hindoo lute, is not only a musician of admirable 
skill, but also a wise legislator, an eloquent messenger of 
the gods, and renowned in arts and arms. Parvati, God- 
dess of Enchantments, was born of the foam of the sea. 
Her son Cama, God of Love, is painted riding on a parrot, 
attended by dancing nymphs, the foremost of whom carries 
his flag, a fish painted on a red ground. His bow is made 
of sugar-cane, his string is made of bees, and his five ar- 
rows (the senses) are each pointed with some heating plant. 
His wife is Eeti, Goddess of Affection. Pavana is God of 
the Winds ; Agnee of fire ; Yaruna of the Waters. In 
their state of astronomical knowledge, the luminaries named 
by us Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Yenus and Sa- 
turn, were considered the seven planets. Successive days 
were set apart to offer sacrifices to the presiding Spirits of 
these orbs ; each of which is supposed to have particular 
superintendence over the day assigned to him. Each sign 
of the Zodiac has its deity, with various subordinates. 
There are genii of the hours, and even of the minutes. 
Every mountain and river has its guardian Spirit. One 
god is the protector of soldiers, another of travellers. 
One is prayed to for a happy marriage, another for the 
preservation of health. The dark goddess Cali, wife of 
Siva the Destroyer, is the chosen patron of robbers and 

Their most ancient Sacred Books mention but few 


Spirits, and command sacrifices to be offered to each, 
without neglecting any. This was perhaps intended to 
prevent any one of them from becoming elevated above 
the idea of a mere symbol, or instrument, of the Supreme 
Being. Poets afterwards indulged in great luxuriance of 
imagination, and a long train of deities were added, whose 
adventures came to be regarded as sacred history. 

Among the innumerable Intelligences emanating from 
Brahm in successive gradations, they believe that some 
fell into lower spheres, because they turned away their 
minds from contemplating the Supreme One. Through 
the intercession of Spirits, who had not fallen from their 
original state, this world was created as a place of proba- 
tion for these wandering souls, and mortal bodies were 
provided for them to enter. Through this penance, if 
faithfully performed, they might work their way upward 
to the primeval condition from which they fell. But if 
they sinned without making due atonement for their 
offences, they must fall still lower in the scale of being, 
and thus their penance might be renewed and prolonged 
through indefinite ages. 

A legion of Evil Spirits, called Eakshasas, had a prince 
named Havana. Numerous classes of (rood and Evil 
Spirits, called Sooras and Assooras, are represented as step- 
brothers in perpetual hostility, to illustrate the supposed 
antagonism between Spirit and Matter. Wicked Spirits 
are generally described as giants, and are often said to 
have a Great Serpent for their leader. They were con- 
tinually aiming to do injury to mankind, and fought des- 
perate battles with Indra, and his Spirits of Light. They 
would have taken his Paradise by storm, and subverted 
the whole order of the universe if Brahma had not sent 
Yishnu to circumvent their plans. To perform this mis- 
sion successfully, he assumed various forms at different 
times, and was twice incarnated in a human body, and 
dwelt among mortals. 

The wonderful and universal power of light and heat 
have caused the Sun to be worshipped as a visible emblem 


of deity in the infancy of nearly all nations. "Water, 
which cleanses from pollution, and performs such an im- 
portant part in sustaining animal and vegetable life, is 
recognized as another obvious symbol of divine influence. 
Hence the sacred rivers, fountains, and wells, abounding 
in Hindostan. The Air is likewise to them a consecrated 
emblem. Invisible, pervading all space, and necessary to 
the life of all creatures, it naturally suggests the spirit of 
God. Nearly all languages describe the soul by some 
phrase similar in signification to "the breath of life." 
Brahm is sometimes called Alma, or the Breathing Soul. 
Begarding the air as his breath, it forms part of their 
religious exercises to retain it in their lungs as long as 
possible, as one means of prolonging contact with the 
Universal Soul. 

Other emblems deemed sacred by Hindoos, and wor- 
shipped in their temples, have brought upon them the 
charge of gross indecency. But if it be true at the present 
time, it probably was not so in the beginning. When the 
world was in its infancy, people spoke and acted with 
more of the simplicity and directness of little children, 
than they do at present. In the individual child, and in 
the childhood of society, whatever is incomprehensible 
produces religious awe. As the reflective faculties de- 
velop man is solemnly impressed with the wonders of 
creation, in the midst of which his soul wakes up, as it 
were, from a dream. And what so miraculous as the ad- 
vent of this conscious soul into the marvellous mechanism 
of a human body? If Light, with its grand revealings, 
and Heat making the earth fruitful with beauty, excited 
wonder and worship in the first inhabitants of our world, 
is it strange that they likewise regarded with reverence 
the great mystery of human Birth? Were they impure 
thus to regard it? Or are we impure that we do not 
so regard it? We have travelled far, and unclean have 
been the paths, since those old anchorites first spoke of 
God and the soul in the solemn depths of their forest 
sanctuaries. Let us not smile at their mode of tracing the 

HlKDOSTAtf, OR ItfDIA. 17 

Infinite and Incomprehensible Cause throughout all the 
mysteries of Nature, lest by so doing we cast the shadow 
of our own grossness on their patriarchal simplicity. 

From time immemorial, an emblem has been wor- 
shipped in Hindostan as the type of creation, or the 
origin of life. It is the most common symbol of Siva, 
and is universally connected with his worship. To un- 
derstand the original intention of this custom, we should* 
remember that Siva was not merely the reproducer of 
human forms; he represented the Fructifying Principle, 
the Generating Power that pervades the universe, produ- 
cing sun, moon, stars, men, animals, and plants. The sym- 
bol to which we have alluded is always in his temples. 
It is usually placed in the inmost recess, or sanctuary, 
sculptured in granite, marble, or ivory, often crowned 
with flowers, and surmounted by a golden star. Lamps 
are kept burning before it, and on festival occasions it is 
illuminated by a lamp with seven branches, supposed to 
represent the planets. Small images of this emblem, 
carved in ivory, gold, or crystal, are often worn as 
ornaments about the neck. The pious use them in their 
prayers, and often have them buried with them. Devotees 
of Siva have it written on their foreheads in the form of 
a perpendicular mark. The maternal emblem is likewise a 
religious type, and worshippers of Vishnu represent it on 
their foreheads by a horizontal mark, with three short per- 
pendicular lines. 

The serious impression made on the minds of ancient 
devotees by the great mysteries of conception and birth, is 
everywhere observable in the metaphysical theories and re- 
ligious ceremonies of Hindostan. They suppose that Brahm 
comprised within himself both the masculine and feminine 
principle, therefore his name is in the neuter gender. By 
thought he separated the two, and produced Brahma, who 
is often called the "First Male of the Universe." His 
wife is Sereswaty, Goddess of Imagination and Invention, 
from whom proceeded first music, then language, litera- 
ture, and the arts. By her aid Brahma formed the mun- 
Vol. I.— 2* 


dane egg, which produced our world. Every masculine 
deity has a feminine companion, through whose agency 
new forms of being are produced. Lacshmi, Goddess of 
Abundance, who presides over harvests, is mate of Vishnu, 
the Preserver. Siva has numerous wives, according to 
his various titles in the multifarious departments of de- 
struction or change. Under the name of Iswara, he is 
redded to Isa, or Isi, supposed to represent Nature, which 
in all languages is metaphorically called she. As changer 
of the seasons, and promoter of germination, he unites 
with Parvati, Goddess of Illusions or Enchantments. As 
Time, the Destroyer, his mate is the dark goddess Cali, 
with four hands, full of deadly weapons, a necklace of 
human skulls, and a girdle of slaughtered giants' hands. 

There is a very striking difference in the habits of the 
Asiatic and European mind with regard to ideas deemed 
by us indelicate. Hindoo Sacred Writings abound with 
metaphors drawn from sexual love, to illustrate the in- 
timate and fruitful union of God with Nature. So com- 
pletely do they mingle natural and spiritual ideas on this 
subject, that even voluptuous scenes in their amorous 
poetry are often allegorical descriptions of the blessed 
absorption of a sanctified human soul into the Divine 
Soul of the Universe. Sir William Jones remarks : — "It 
never seems to have entered the heads of Hindoo legisla- 
tors, or people, that anything natural could be offensively 
obscene; a singularity which pervades all their writing 
and conversation, but is no proof of the depravity of their 

Hindoo theology teaches that there exists an eternal 
unchangeable relation of mutual dependence between all 
things in the universe. The gods cannot exist without 
offerings from men, and men cannot subsist without gifts 
from the gods. Their Sacred Books declare that "the 
virtuous guide the sun by their truth, and sustain the 
earth by their holy sacrifices." Departed souls are de- 
pendent on the good offices of those who survive them ; 
therefore it is enjoined that sacrifices be performed for the 

HlffDOSTAff, Olf INDIA. 19 

Souls of ancestors as far back as the third generation. 
There must be daily offerings of water, with prescribed 
prayers ; and on the first day of every new moon more 
elaborate ceremonies and prayers. It is supposed that 
these help to abridge the term of punishment for sins 
committed in the body. If neglected, the desolate spirit 
may be left to hover about the grave of its buried form, 
or linger long in some inferior animal, or suffer torment 
in the infernal regions. 

The division of society into castes is a part of their 
system of regular gradation and mutual dependence. 
They consider their own nation set apart from others, a 
pre-eminently pure race, to whom the laws of divine 
wisdom have been peculiarly intrusted. They regard 
other nations as barbarian, and consider it pollution to 
intermingle with them by marriage, or even by eating 
with them. Foreigners are not allowed to read their Holy 
Books, or approach their consecrated groves and fountains. 
Sir James Forbes speaks of a Mahometan who, bathing in 
one of their sacred pools, unconscious of prohibition, had 
both his hands cut off. If a member of any other nation 
happens to enter the hut of one of his Hindoo servants, 
the furniture is tossed out of doors, because it is deemed 
polluted by his presence. Bishop Heber says i — " We came 
to a shed where a man with his wife and children were 
cooking their supper. The man called out to us for 
heaven's sake not to come near them, for he was a 
Bramin, and our approach would oblige him to fling 
away his food." 

Among themselves, they are divided into four great 
castes, and these again are subdivided into several branches. 
The highest are the Bramins, or priests, supposed to have 
issued from the mouth of Brahma, to pray, read, and in- 
struct. The second are Cshatriyas, princes and warriors, 
sprung from the arms of Brahma, to fight and govern. 
The third are Yaisyas, from his belly and thighs, to sup- 
ply the necessities of human life by agriculture and com- 
merce. The fourth are Soodras, from his feet, to serve as 


mechanics and labourers. Numerous inferior classes have 
sprung up from unlawful intermixtures. The lowest and 
most degraded of all these are the Pariahs, who now con- 
stitute about one-fifth of the population. They are obliged 
to bury the corpses of criminals, and are allowed to hold 
no property but dogs and asses. They are forbidden to 
enter the temples, or dwellings of any of the other castes ; 
to eat in their presence, or even to drink from their wells. 
The Code of Menu says: "Let no man who regards his 
duty, religious or civil, hold any intercourse with them." 
Each caste is perpetually separated from another by the 
strictest prohibitions. One must never presume to perform 
any business or duty that has been appropriated to another. 
It is a disgrace and a sin to intermarry or intermingle. 
They are not even allowed to eat with each other. It is a 
heavy punishment to be degraded into a lower caste ; for 
it involves a social stigma, banishment from family and 
friends, and transmission of disgrace to posterity. No de- 
gree of talent or merit can regain the position forfeited by 
an ancestor's fault. 

The Bramins, above all others, are endowed with ex- 
clusive privileges. Religious ceremonies, public or private, 
can be performed only by their ministry. They offer sac- 
rifices and prayers for themselves and for others. Every 
important epoch in human life, and every national emer- 
gency, require their aid. The civil law is all contained in 
the Sacred Books, which they alone are allowed to study 
and explain ; consequently, they are the only lawyers and 
judges. All knowledge of medicine is derived from the 
same volumes; and sickness being considered a punish- 
ment for transgression, penances and religious ceremonies 
are imposed as remedies ; therefore they are the only phy- 
sicians. Astronomy, of which astrology forms an impor- 
tant portion, is also revealed in their Holy Books ; hence 
the priests are relied upon to make astronomical calcula- 
tions, and predict future events by the stars. This exclu- 
sive possession of such knowledge as exists, has, of course, 
been a source of perpetual emolument. 


Every Hindoo priest is a Bramin; but all the Bra- 
mins are not priests. Those who expound the Sacred 
Books take precedence of other Bramins. The highest 
order of this powerful hierarchy are called Guroos. At 
stated seasons, these princely Pontiffs travel through their 
respective districts, to examine seminaries, visit inferior 
priests, attend great festivals, administer prescribed rites in 
the temples, or perform solemn ceremonies in the sacred 
groves. Their retinue and equipage are very magnificent. 
Pioneers precede the splendid procession, to level high 
places in the roads, and fill up ravines. The lower castes 
retire to a distance while they pass by, lest their shadows 
should happen to touch them, or the consecrated air be 
polluted by inferior breath. The most sanctified among 
these priests are not only venerated, but absolutely wor- 
shipped with low prostration, when they appear in public. 
Some of them are believed to be incarnated deities. The 
rajahs, or princes, belong to the warrior caste ; but they 
are restrained and regulated by the High Priests, whom 
they treat with profoundest reverence. Princes who be- 
come holy devotees acquire spiritual rank in addition to 
their hereditary dignity; but even under such circum- 
stances, they are bound to treat Bramins with deferential 
humility. It is deemed an act of the highest piety to de- 
fend the priesthood from any danger, to bestow alms upon 
them, or make them heirs of worldly wealth. They are 
exempted from taxes and from, corporeal punishment. To 
kill a Bramin intentionally is an inexpiable crime, and 
even to kill one by accident requires to be atoned for by 
terrible penances. The funeral pile for them must be 
lighted, as it is for the holiest sacrifices, with fire obtained 
by the friction of wood from the sacred groves. The ob- 
sequies must be solemnized with sacrifices to the Sun and 
the Planets, consisting of a ram, or a he-goat, without ble- 
mish. These ceremonies must be performed in a place 
previously consecrated by prayer, and sprinkled with holy 

Soodras, and the castes below them, are expressly for- 


bidden to devote themselves to a life of religious contem- 
plation, to read the Sacred Books, or hear them read. The 
inequality of laws resulting from these lines of demarcation 
in society may be easily conjectured. If a Bramin kill 
one of his own caste, it is ordained that he perform severe 
penances in the forest during twelve years. If a Cshatriya 
involuntarily kills a Bramin, his term of penance is 
twenty-four years ; if a Yaisya does the same, it is thirty- 
six years ; if a Soodra, it is forty-eight years. 

The education of a Bramin, if conducted with strict- 
ness, is somewhat arduous. In his youth, he is bound to 
be scrupulously chaste, to learn Sanscrit, study the Sacred 
Books, which are very voluminous, and treat his spiritual 
teachers with the most implicit obedience, however severe 
their requirements may be. In manhood, it is his duty to 
marry and rear up children to succeed him in his holy 
office. As he may contract pollution by the approach of a 
foreigner, or coming near any dead body, or touching any 
vessel or garment that has been used by one of inferior 
caste, or having an insect get crushed in the folds of his 
priestly robes, it is necessary to spend a great deal of time 
in performing ablutions and ceremonies of purification. 
He is forbidden to cause the death of any creature except 
for sacrifice, and therefore eats no flesh except that of 
victims. Wine and strong drinks are forbidden. He is 
required to be strictly virtuous, modest in conversation 
and manners, benevolent in his social relations, and faith- 
ful in the discharge of religious functions. If a Bramin 
has obeyed these rules, he may, if he chooses, transfer the 
duties of his sacerdotal office, and retire into the forest, to 
devote himself to a life of spiritual contemplation. If he 
intends to do this, he makes a feast for friends and rela- 
tives, and bestows farewell presents on them. The priests 
perform a great variety of ceremonies and recite prayers. 
He lays down the triple cord, which he has always worn 
as the external sign of his superior caste, assumes the her- 
mit's coarse garment of woven bark, and bids adieu to the 
world. If his wife and children choose to accompany him, 


in order to render his solitary life more comfortable by 
their attentions, it is considered a mark of great devotion 
on their part. But whether his family are with him or 
not, the hermit must live perfectly chaste, arid devote him- 
self entirely to religious meditation and sacrifices. If, after 
years of fasting, mortification, and prayer, he should break 
his vow of chastity, he loses all the fruit of his past labours. 
If he aims at being one of the highest order of saints, he 
must become still more ascetic. He must renounce his 
family, give up every species of property, sleep on the 
ground, and annihilate his body by such self-torments as 
ingenuity can devise. By this process he may finally at- 
tain absorption into The Divine Soul, which is the great 
object of devotional efforts among the Hindoos. They 
describe it as by no means a state of deadness, but as 
peaceful, free, and happy ; serenely independent of all the 
world can give or take away; a state of unchangeable 
beatitude, which can only be understood by those who 
have experienced it. Arrived at this stage in the spiritual 
pilgrimage, there is no more need to offer sacrifices or 
study the Yedas. Truth constantly reveals itself by its 
own inward light, and the divine fire continually burning 
within the soul is sufficient worship. 

This complete abstraction of the soul from the body, by 
solitude, prolonged fasts, and physical torture, may well be 
supposed to occasion strange states of nervous irritability 
and exaltation ; but the promised bliss, the miraculous 
power, and the saintly renown, are so much coveted, that 
devotees usually endure their sufferings with great courage 
and perseverance. One of them told the Abbe Dubois: 
" Every day my spiritual master obliged me to gaze fix- 
edly at the firmament, without changing my posture or 
winking my eyes. This gave me a terrible headache. I 
thought I saw sparkles of fire, flaming globes, and other 
meteors. My teacher had himself become blind of one eye 
by these exercises." 

Another said : "I was ordered to keep awake most of 
the night, striving not to think of any thing at all. I wae 


instructed to hold my breath, as long as nature eould 
possibly endure it. Once at midday, I found myself sur- 
rounded by thick darkness ; at another time, I saw a very 
clear moon that appeared to move. My master con- 
gratulated me upon my progress, and prescribed more 
painful exertions. But I became fatigued, and returned 
to my former mode of life." 

One of those hermit-schools in the forest, where pilgrims 
resorted, and saints served their noviciate, is thus described 
in the ancient poem Mahabharata, believed to have been 
written more than a thousand years before Christ : — " The 
king advanced toward the sacred grove, image of celestial 
regions. The river was filled with pilgrims, while the air 
resounded with voices of pious men repeating portions 
of the sacred writings. Followed by his minister of state 
and his grand priest, he advanced toward the hermitage, 
animated with desire to see the holy man, inexhaustible 
treasure of religious knowledge. He heard mysterious 
sentences, extracts from the Yedas, pronounced with rhyth- 
mical cadence by priests most learned in sacred maxims 
and religious ceremonies. This place was radiant with 
glory from the presence of a certain number of Bramins 
skilful in the preparation of sacrifices ; while others of ex- 
emplary life chanted portions of the Yedas. All were men 
of cultivated intelligence and imposing exterior ; men 
who possessed the principles of morality, and the science 
of the cultivation of the soul ; men skilful to reconcile 
sacred texts, which do not agree together ; men versed in 
grammar, poetry, logic, and chronology ; men who un- 
derstood causes and effects, who had penetrated the essence 
of matter, of movement, and of quality ; who had studied 
the language of birds and bees [for omens] ; who reposed 
their faith upon the works of Yyasa, and offered models of 
study from books of sacred origin. These places resemble 
the dwelling of Brahma." 

The most ancient writings of the Hindoos teach the 
immortality of the soul, and its transmigration through 
various forms of being. Man is taught to consider the 


numerous evils which afflict him in this life as the in- 
evitable consequences of sins committed, either in his 
present form of existence, or in some previous state. He 
was sent into the world again to expiate them by penances 
and good works. The duties of his caste are a portion of 
his penance, and if he performs them faithfully, he will 
have a certain degree of reward thereunto belonging. If 
he accomplishes meritorious works in addition to these, his 
account will stand still more favourably, and when he is 
born into the world again, it may be into a higher caste. 
If he commits sins, instead of performing duties, he must 
make haste to expiate them by painful penances here, lest 
he receive the appropriate punishment in hell, and when 
that is finished, his soul be sent back to earth, to dwell in a 
lower caste or a barbarian nation, perhaps even in the 
form of a woman or an animal. The highest Bramin 
may gradually sink himself lower and lower, by sins and 
neglect of duty, until he is condemned to reappear in the 
world as a Pariah, or a reptile. But the desired good can 
be attained sooner or later by all, though it may be 
through manifold progressive changes. If the Soodra per- 
forms faithfully the duties of his station, he may return to 
earth as a Vaisya. If he fulfil this mission conscientiously, 
and adds meritorious works according to his knowledge, 
his soul may enjoy Paradise for a season, and when the 
recompense is completed, he may perhaps be born into the 
favoured caste of Bramins, bringing with him the ac- 
cumulated wisdom and goodness acquired by his past ex- 
periences on earth or in Paradise. The Soodra, thus 
elevated to a Bramin, may finally, by annihilating his 
senses, and devoting himself entirely to religious con- 
templation, attain to complete absorption into the Universal 
Soul, and enjoy immortal beatitude, without any further 
necessity of submitting to birth or death. 

One of their sacred poems represents the Supreme Being 

as saying : " Those who seek refuge near me shall not perish. 

Though they be born of ignoble parents, though they be 

women, or Yaisyas, or Soodras, they are upon the road tc 

Vol. I.— 3 b 


supreme felicity ; much more the pure Bramins and pious 
royal sages." 

They believe that every man is accompanied from birth 
to death by two attendant Spirits, one of whom keeps re- 
cord of his good actions, the other of his sins. That within 
the external mortal body is a subtile invisible body, the 
seat of the spiritual faculties, the mediator between the 
soul and the senses. At death, this interior body is not 
laid aside with the material form. It accompanies the 
human soul through all its transmigrations, until the soul 
is finally absorbed into the Supreme Being, from whom it 
emanated. This invisible interior body, after successive 
sojourns on earth, in paradise, or hell, for ages, is finally 
cast off by the soul's complete absorption into Brahm. 

Then the spiritual body returns to be again born on 
earth, and the organization of the external body it takes 
depends on the character of the soul it had previously ac- 
companied. It is a common assertion among Hindoos that 
"Brahma inscribes the destiny of every mortal on his scull, 
and the gods themselves cannot avert it." 

However, man is not entirely a passive machine in the 
hands of fate. Various spiritual influences act upon him 
while he is in the body. Some will lead him into the 
illusions of the passions, some into the shadows of ig- 
norance and lethargy, and some to the calm regions of 
truth and virtue. By resolute efforts, they say, man can 
turn away from the shadows and illusions, and follow the 
real and unchangeable. 

The Sacred Books describe fourteen spheres, the abodes 
of souls, many of whom have fallen from their original 
glory, and are returning to their primeval home, more or 
less slowly, through manifold transmigrations. This earth 
is one of the scenes of expiation and progress. It has six 
spheres above it, successive gradations of Paradise, and 
seven spheres below it, successive gradations of punishment, 
for purposes of purification. These abodes are dreary and 
dark, each more horrible than the other. In some, the 
ground is composed of deep mud, in others it is made of 


hot copper, or planted thick with thorns, or crowded with 
venomous reptiles, such as serpents and vipers. The cruel 
are to be tormented by snakes ; drunkards thrown into 
baths of liquid fire ; seducers embraced by images of red-hot 
iron ; the inhospitable are to have their eyes torn out by vul- 
tures; and despisers of Bramins are to stick fast in filthy mire 
with their heads downward. The seventh and deepest pit 
is of red-hot charcoal. Evil Spirits come up thence to re- 
ceive the souls of wicked men. When souls come into 
the presence of Yama, Judge of the Dead, two attendants 
place before him the records of their lives ; one of which 
enumerates their good deeds, the other their sins. If wicked 
thoughts and actions predominate, Yama delivers the trem- 
bling souls to Evil Spirits with orders to scourge them, or 
drag them over rocky paths, or expose them to be torn by 
awful beasts, or gnawed by fiery worms, or plunged into 
pits of flame. These abodes of suffering are always de- 
scribed as situated in the South, and the blessed regions in 
the North. 

The first sphere above this earth is the Paradise of 
Indra, appropriated to those who have been charitable to 
the poor and zealous in the performance of religious cere- 
monies. Above this, are successive ascending spheres, for 
men of greater and greater degrees of holiness. Those 
who have died martyrs for religion, or performed very ex- 
traordinary acts of piety, inhabit the Paradise of Vishnu, 
in the fifth sphere. The sixth and highest is the Paradise 
of Brahma, reserved for men who never uttered a falsehood, 
and for women who burn themselves on the funeral pile 
of their husbands, a voluntary self-sacrifice, to expiate the 
sins of the deceased. 

Indra's Paradise is more frequently described than the 
higher ones, perhaps because it is more generally hoped for, 
being attained by the easiest process. His resplendent pal- 
ace, called Vaij ay anta, is in the midst of blooming gardens, 
where grows the celestial fruit Amrita, which confers im- 
mortality on whoever tastes it. Ever-playing fountains 
preserve perpetual verdure. There is Camada, the cow of 


abundance, the sacred horse Sajam, and the white elephant 
Airavata. Indra and his wife are seated on a throne of 
gold, blazing with gems. They are surrounded by Spirits 
of Singing Stars, called Gandharvas, and by the Genii of 
Musical Instruments, called Ginarers, who make celestial 
harmony with the voices of dancing nymphs, called Aspa- 
ras ; and as they sing, the air is perfumed with their fra- 
grant breath. They mingle together in dances, and delight 
the eye with graceful evolutions. 

Kalaisa, the palace of Siva, is on a silver mountain above 
the lofty peaks of Himalaya. " It is surrounded by an infi- 
nite variety of trees, which yield delicious fruit all the 
year round. Roses and other flowers fill the air with fra- 
grance. The lake at the foot of the mountain is enclosed 
with pleasant groves of umbrageous trees. Peacocks and 
beautiful women delight the eye, and birds charm the ear 
with multifarious melody. The surrounding woods are 
filled with saints, who spend their time in contemplation 
and sacrifices to the gods. They are fair to look upon, 
with long white beards and graceful drapery. Round 
about the mountain are seven ladders, by which you ascend 
to a spacious plain, over which hangs a silver bell, self-sus- 
tained in the air, and a table too brilliant for mortal sight, 
with nine precious stones of various colours. Upon this 
table lies a silver rose, which contains two women, bright 
and fair as pearls. In the centre of the rose is the Sacred 
Triangle, that mysterious emblem, of which no mortal 
tongue may declare the significance." 

The Mahabharata describes the Paradise of Vishnu as 
" eighty thousand miles in circumference, and formed of 
pure gold. The pillars of his palace, Yaicuntha, are entire 
gems; its architraves and pediments blaze with jewels. 
On a throne, radiant as the meridian sun, sits Yishnu, with 
his wife Lacshmi, reposing on lotus-blossoms. The god- 
dess shines like a continued blaze of lightning, and hei 
beautiful form exhales a fragrance which is diffused through 
Paradise. Lovely lakes surround the palace, and on their 
surface float myriads of red, blue, and white water-lilies. 


The praises of Brahma are continually chanted by beau- 
tiful spirits, and the gods sometimes unite their voices with 
the worshippers. Graruda, the eagle god, guards the door." 

The Hindoos, endowed by nature with keen susceptibil- 
ity to pleasure, are eager to arrive at these paradisaical re- 
gions, where life is not for penance, and enjoyment is no 
sin. To obtain the promised rewards, they go through an 
immense number of religious ceremonies and severe pen- 
ances. Almost every event of human life, and every 
portion of the day, has some prescribed prayer or sacrifice. 
They attribute an inherent value to acts of devotion, en- 
tirely independent of the spiritual state of those who per- 
form them. If not accomplished exactly according to 
prescription, the desired effects will not follow. Even if 
this happen by some unavoidable accident, the reward will 
be lost, whatever might have been the purity of intention. 
But if the ceremony be performed strictly according to rule 
in every particular, the gods are unable to prevent the 
recompense thereunto belonging, however wicked the pe- 
titioner may be, or however bad his purpose in the power 
he wishes to acquire. An eternal necessity binds every 
act to its effect, which must manifest itself sooner or later. 
Their Sacred Books declare : "If fire is touched without 
thinking of fire, it burns him who touches it ; poison will 
kill, though taken by accident ; thus the name of God con- 
tains in itself essentially the virtue to consume sins." But 
each effort has its limited consequences, and can receive 
no more than belongs to it. When two giants asked 
Brahma for immortality, as a reward for terrible self-inflic- 
tions, he replied: " Your object in undertaking these peni- 
tential enterprises was to rule over three worlds. You 
have secured that object ; but immortality cannot be granted 

The three attributes of Brahm, called Brahma, Vishnu, 
and Siva, are indicated by letters corresponding to our A. U. 
M., generally pronounced Om. This mystic Word is never 
uttered except in prayer, and the sign which represents it 
in their temples is an object of profound adoration. Their 
Vol. I.— 3* 


Sacred Books declare it to be the first Word uttered by 
Brahma, and call it " the first-born of the Creator." "Like 
the pure ether, it encloses in itself all the qualities, all the 
elements of Brahma. It is the name and the body of 
Brahma. It is consequently infinite, like him, and is the 
Creator and Euler of all things." " Brahma, meditating 
upon this Divine Word, found therein primitive water." 
" All ordained rites, such as oblation to fire, and solemn 
offerings, pass away ; but A. U. M. passes not away ; since 
it is a symbol of the Most High, the Lord of all created 
things." In the Sacred Books called Yedas, The Word 
utters a soliloquy, in which he praises himself as "the 
Universal Soul." 

There is likewise a prayer in the Yedas, called Gaya- 
tree, which consists of three measured lines, and is consid- 
ered the holiest and most efficacious of all their religious 
forms. Sir William Jones translates it thus: "Let us 
adore the supremacy of that Spiritual Sun, the godhead, 
who illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all pro- 
ceed, to whom all must return ; whom we invoke to direct 
our undertakings aright in our progress toward his holy 
seat." He gives the following paraphrase as expressive 
of the meaning it conveys to a devout Hindoo: "What 
the sun and light are to this visible world, the Supreme 
good and truth are to the intellectual and invisible universe; 
and as our corporeal eyes have a distinct perception of ob- 
jects enlightened by the sun, thus our souls acquire certain 
knowledge, by meditating on the light of truth, which em- 
anates from the Being of beings. That is the light, by 
which alone our minds can be directed in the path of beat- 
itude." One of the celebrated Hindoo saints thus expounds 
the Grayatree : " We meditate on the Supreme, Omnipre- 
sent, Internal Spirit of this splendid sun, who is earnestly 
sought for by such as dread further mortal birth ; who re- 
sides in every body, as the all-pervading soul and con- 
troller of the mind, and constantly directs our intellect 
toward the acquisition of virtue, wealth, physical enjoy- 
ment, aud final beatitude." 


This prayer should be pronounced with Om at the be- 
ginning, and Om at the end. If omitted at the beginning, 
the desired reward will fail ; if at the end, the reward will 
be of short duration. Their commentators affirm that 
" whoever repeats these once, or ten times, or a hundred 
times, shall obtain bliss in a proportionate degree. After 
the repetition let him meditate on him who is One only, 
and all-pervading ; thereby all religious observances, 
though not performed, shall have been virtually per- 
formed." According to their Sacred Books, "whoever 
repeats them every day for three years, without negligence, 
shall approach the Most High God, become free as air, and 
after death acquire an ethereal essence." This form of 
worship is deemed so holy that it shocks a Bramin to hear 
it uttered by a foreigner, or one of inferior caste. An 
English gentleman, who had learned the Grayatree in San- 
scrit, began to repeat it, unconscious of doing harm, in the 
presence of a pious Bramin, who, with terrified aspect, in- 
stantly stopped his ears, and hurried from the room. No 
people in the world manifest greater veneration for reli- 
gious subjects than the Hindoos. A learned Bramin, read- 
ing a sacred poem to Sir William Jones, omitted the por- 
tions relating to Brahma, because it was deemed profana- 
tion to make them known to any but priests ; and so 
sincere were his devout feelings, that his voice was often 
interrupted by tears. 

The most ancient and honoured of all their Sacred Books 
are the Yedas; a name signifying Laws, or Ordinances, 
and derived "from a root meaning Light, Fire. They be- 
lieve them to have existed in the mind of Brahma himself, 
before the creation, and that the first man received them 
directly from his mouth. They are divided into four 
books, called the Big Yeda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama 
Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Portions of the last contain 
fewer obsolete terms than the other volumes, and are 
therefore supposed to be less ancient. Few, even of the 
most learned Bramins, can read all passages in the three 
oldest Vedas. Copies of the original manuscripts are now 


exceedingly scarce. Numerous commentaries have been 
written upon them, from time immemorial, called Shas- 
tras ; a common designation for all their Sacred Writings. 

The Yedas are written in Sanscrit, which means The 
Perfect ; it is likewise called Deva Nagara, or the Divine 
Language. Scholars pronounce it the most copious and 
excellent of all the ancient tongues ; and this fact is a plain 
indication that it was formed by a people considerably ad- 
vanced in civilization, who had many i&eas to express. 
But its origin extends too far back into the darkness of 
antiquity to be traced by history. The people who spoke 
it passed away from the face of the earth such a very long 
time ago, that it has been a dead language beyond the 
memory or the records of man. The knowledge of it was 
confined to learned Bramins, until it attracted the atten- 
tion and employed the industry of European scholars, in 
the last century. 

The Hindoos believe that the Yedas are as old as the 
creation of the world. Learned Bramins profess to find 
traces of their existence as far back as two hundred and 
sixty years after our date of the Deluge ; that is, two thou- 
sand and eighty-eight years before the Christian era. Sir 
William Jones says: " That the Yedas were actually writ- 
ten before the Flood, I shall never believe ; but they are 
very ancient, and far older than other Sanscrit composi- 
tions." He thinks the Yajur Yeda can be traced as far as 
one thousand five hundred and eighty years before Christ ; 
that is, one hundred years before the birth of Moses. He 
arrived at this conclusion from certain astronomical state- 
ments therein contained. The learned Heeren says : 
" There is no reliable data by which to ascertain the pre- 
cise period, either when the separate parts were written, 
or when they were arranged in their present order. Their 
origin is involved in deepest obscurity. They are without 
doubt the oldest works composed in Sanscrit. This is suf- 
ficiently attested by the obsolete idiom in which they are 
written. Another proof is derived from the fact that all 
the Sanscrit writings, even the most ancient, allude to the 


Yedas as already in existence, and cite numerous passages 
from them, at almost every page." The various Hindoo 
sects all profess to find authority for their doctrines in these 
Sacred Oracles ; but the Vedas themselves give no indica- 
tions of separation into sects. They do not even allude to 
the great sects of Siva, and of the two incarnations of 
Vishnu, called Kama and Crishna, though Hindoo monu- 
ments prove them to be of extreme antiquity. 

The manuscripts of the Yedas made forty -two volumes, 
folio. On account of their great bulk, the obsolete expres- 
sions, and the metaphorical obscurity of style, they were 
condensed and arranged in their present form, by a learned 
Bramin. This collection is called the Yedanta, or Sub- 
stance of the Yedas, and is generally received as of equal 
authority with the original. There is no certain evidence 
when this compilation was made ; but Oriental scholars 
agree that it must have been more than two thousand 
years ago. The work is attributed to Vyasa, which is a 
common term applied to all compilers. Heeren says : — 
" Yyasa had numerous disciples, who instructed others in 
their turn. At last, the variations in the manner of read- 
ing and reciting the text are said to have given rise to no 
less than one thousand one hundred different schools. 
These alterations would, for the most part, only concern 
outward forms of pronunciation ; and they must have been 
made many centuries ago ; for the numerous quotations in 
the oldest writings agree with the modern copies of the 

Nothing can exceed the reverence paid to these Sacred 
Writings. It is not allowable to bring them into contact 
with animal substances, such as leather or woollen. He 
who uses them must first perform prescribed ablutions and 
other religious ceremonies. It is deemed sacrilege to read 
them in the presence of a wicked man, or within the sound 
of whipping, or in a place through which a corpse is car- 
ried. Bramins alone may study or explain them ; and 
they have always had it in their power to communicate to 
other castes as much, or as little, as they pleased. The 



next caste, comprising princes and nobles, are allowed to 
hear them expounded, and even to read portions, under 
the superintendence of Bramins. The third caste, of mer- 
chants, who are generally correct grammarians, and often 
good poets, are permitted to hear only such parts as relate 
to medicine. The lower castes are rigorously excluded 
from all knowledge of them. The Code of Menu ordains : 
"If a Soodra reads the Yedas to either of the three other 
castes, or if he listens to them, heated oil, wax, and melted 
tin shall be poured into his ears, and the orifice stopped 
up ; and if he learns the Yedas by heart, he shall be put 
to death." But " the Bramin, who knows all the Yedas 
by heart, and recites them three times with devotion, will 
be delivered from all sin. He would incur no punishment, 
though he had eaten food from the most unclean hands, 
or even if he had killed the inhabitants of three worlds." 
Devout men, who have thus read and recited the Yedas, 
are called "twice born," in allusion to a new spiritual birth, 
in addition to their natural birth. 

Inherent sacredness and supernatural power are ascribed 
to the identical Sanscrit words, and it is considered sacri- 
lege to make the slightest alteration in the arrangement of 
the sentences. Hence, the Bramins have evinced an al- 
most insurmountable reluctance to have them translated 
into foreign languages. Probably no one of them would 
have dared to show the manuscripts for such a purpose, 
had it not been for their hopeless conviction that every- 
thing is going to predestined destruction in this present 
Cali Yug, and therefore it matters little what is done with 
anything this perishable world contains. But though this 
view has reconciled some to imparting a knowledge of 
their religion to foreigners, the stricter sort have always 
regarded translations of their Sacred Books with mingled 
feelings of terror and sadness. 

The Yedas are collections of detached pieces, by differ- 
ent authors, whose names are therein cited. They purport 
to be the utterance of certain very ancient and celebrated 
saints, called Kishis, who received them directly from Di- 


viue Beings. Some of these authors were Brarains, and 
some were royal personages, who had attained to complete 
sanctity. They are represented as holy anchorites in the 
forest, a circumstance which indicates the extreme antiquity 
of that mode of life in India. Heeren says : " The worship 
prescribed concerns a religious system, which, according to 
the unanimous opinion of all who have studied the sub- 
ject, has for its foundation the belief in One God. This 
Divinity, however, was manifested in the grand phenomena 
of Nature, which were themselves separately invoked as 
deities. In this sense, we might consider it a kind of nat- 
ural religion, but it is interwoven with a tissue of refined 
speculations on the infinite, on the origin of things, the 
emanation of beings, and their absorption into the God- 
head ; and this constitutes their peculiarity." The names 
of Yishnu and Siva are only mentioned two or three 
times ; but the " One Immutable Being" is mentioned 
much more frequently. The prayers are mostly addressed 
to Sun, Moon, Fire, Air, Water, and other forces of Na- 
ture, whose presiding Spirits are supposed to be subordi- 
nate agents of the Supreme, and different manifestations of 
his being. The Yedas contain civil laws, moral precepts, 
treatises on medicine, astronomy, astrology, and divination, 
dialogues concerning God and the soul, and a prescribed 
ritual for external worship. Each Yeda is divided into 
two parts. The first part, called the Sanhita, contains 
hymns, prayers, invocations, rules concerning sacrifices to 
be offered to .Spirits of the Planets and of the Elements, and 
to the souls of departed ancestors ; and various other things 
connected with the ceremonials of religion. The second por- 
tion is called the Upanishad, which signifies The Knowledge 
of God, or the Science of God. These portions contain 
moral precepts, and dialogues between the Eishis and the 
Deities, concerning the existence of God, the origin and 
destiny of the soul, and other kindred topics. They teach 
the existence of One Invisible Being, and urge subjugation 
of the senses, and devout contemplation, as the means of 
obtaining from above intuitive perceptions, which they call 


"science," by whose divine agency the human soul is 
brought into perfect and blessed union with the Supreme 

In the first two Vedas, there is but a small proportion 
of this spiritual teaching. The third comprises the most 
detailed and abstract researches of that description; and 
even in the fourth, which is not so highly esteemed by 
European scholars, they occupy more than half the whole 
book. The Sanhita, or Liturgy, of the first and second 
Vedas, contains hymns and prayers to be recited at sacri- 
fices, festivals, the consecration of Bramins, the inaugura- 
tion of kings, and other public ceremonies. Some of them 
are said to be composed by the ancient Eishis, others are 
ascribed to various Deities. The hymns of the third Yeda 
are exclusively intended for chanting. The fourth con- 
tains more than seven hundred and sixty hymns and 
prayers. A large proportion are forms of imprecation, for 
the punishment of the wicked and the destruction of ene- 
mies. There are also numerous invocations to the Spirit 
of the Sun, of the Air, of Water, and of other forces of 
Nature, to procure rain and good harvests, or to avert 
sickness and calamity. 

The following extracts will serve to give some idea of 
the more spiritual portions of the Yedas. "Where the word 
science occurs, it must be remembered that the writers in- 
tended thereby to express perceptions of divine truth, ob- 
tained by immediate revelations from God to the soul. 

" Any place where the mind of man can be undisturbed, 
is suitable for the worship of the Supreme Being." 

"The vulgar look for their gods in water; the ignorant 
think they reside in wood, bricks, and stones ; men of more 
extended knowledge seek them in celestial orbs ; but wise 
men worship the Universal Soul." 

" There is One living and true God ; everlasting, with- 
out parts or passion ; of infinite power, wisdom, and good- 
ness ; the Maker and Preserver of all things." 

" What and how the Supreme Being is, cannot be ascer- 
tained. We can only describe him by his effects and 


works. In like manner as we, not knowing the real nature 
of the sun, explain him to be the cause of the succession 
of days and epochs." 

" That Spirit, who is distinct from Matter, and from all 
beings contained in Matter, is not various. He is One, 
and he is beyond description ; whose glory is so great, 
there can be no image of him. He is the incomprehensible 
Spirit, who illuminates all, and delights all; from whom 
all proceed, by whom they live after they are born, and to 
whom all must return. Nothing but the Supreme Being 
should be adored by a wise man." 

"He overspreads all creatures. He is merely Spirit, 
without the form either of a minute body, or an extended 
one, which is liable to impression or organization. He is 
the ruler of the intellect, self-existent, pure, perfect, omni- 
scient, and omnipresent. He has from all eternity been 
assigning to all creatures their respective purposes. No 
vision can approach him, no language describe him, no in- 
tellectual power can comprehend him." 

" Heaven is his head, the sun and moon are his eyes, the 
earth is his feet, space is his ears, air is his breath, the Ve- 
das are his speech, and the visible creation is his intellect ; 
for he is The Soul of the Universe." 

"He by whom the birth, the existence, and the annihi- 
lation of the world are regulated is The Supreme Soul. 
The sun and all the luminaries borrow their light from him." 

" As a thousand rays emanate from one flame, thus do 
all souls emanate from The One Eternal Soul, and return 
to him." 

" As the web proceeds from the spider and is absorbed 
again by her, as vegetables proceed from the earth, as hair 
and nails grow from animate beings, so is the universe 
evolved from the One Eternal Supreme Soul." 

" The Supreme Soul dwells in the form of four-footed 
animals, and in another place he is full of glory. He lives 
in the form of the slave, he is smaller than the grain of 
barley. He is the smallest of the small, and the greatest 
of the great ; yet he is neither small nor great." 
Vol. I.— 4 


"Without hand or foot, he runs rapidly, and grasps 
firmly ; without eyes, he sees all ; without ears, he hears 
all. He knows whatever can be known; but there is 
none who knows him. The wise call him the Great, Su- 
preme, Pervading Spirit." 

" From him emanates the firmament, illustrated by the 
sun and moon ; the moon accumulates clouds in the sky ; 
the clouds descend in rain, which brings forth vegetables 
from the earth ; the essence derived from the nourishment 
of these vegetables, man imparts to woman ; through these 
progressive physical causes, numerous offspring proceed 
from the omnipresent Supreme Soul." 

u He who considers all beings as existing in the Supreme 
Spirit, and the Supreme Spirit as pervading all beings, 
cannot view with contempt any creature whatsoever." 

" God has created the senses to be directed toward ex- 
ternal objects. They can perceive only these objects, and 
not the Eternal Spirit. The sage, who desires an immor- 
tal life, withdraws his senses from their natural course, and 
perceives the Supreme Being everywhere present." 

" This body formed of bones, skin, and nerves, filled 
with fat and flesh, is a great evil, and without reality. It 
ought to perish. Of what use then is it for the soul to seek 
corporeal pleasures?" 

" The inhabitants of this body are cupidity, anger, de- 
sire for wealth, error, anxiety, envy, sadness, discord, dis- 
appointment, affliction, hunger, thirst, disease, old age, death. 
Of what use is it then to seek the pleasures of this body ?" 

" Through strict veracity, uniform control of mind and 
senses, abstinence from sexual indulgence, and ideas de- 
rived from spiritual teachers, man should approach God, 
who, full of glory and perfection, works in the heart, and 
to whom only votaries freed from passion and desire can 

" Material objects have no duration. As the fruits of 
the trees grow and perish, so do these objects. What is 
there in them worthy to be acquired ? Great things and 
small, commanders of powerful armies, kings who govern 


the earth, have relinquished their riches and passed into 
the other world. Nothing could save them. They were 
men, and they could not escape death. The Gandharvas, 
the Sooras, the stars themselves, do not endure forever. 
The seas will one day be dried up, the high mountains 
will fall, even the polar star will change its place, the earth 
will be swallowed in the waves. Such is the world ! Of 
what avail is it to seek its pleasures ? One may perform 
meritorious works, from self-interested motives, during his 
whole life, he may enjoy all pleasures, still he must come 
back into the world. He can only continue passing from 
one world to another. There is nothing desirable, except 
the science of God. Out of this, there is no tranquillity 
and no freedom. To be attached to material things is to 
be chained ; to be without attachment is to be free." 

" May this soul of mine, which is a ray of perfect wis- 
dom, pure intellect, and permanent existence, which is the 
unextinguishable light fixed within created bodies, without 
which no good act is performed, be united by devout medi- 
tation with the Spirit supremely blest and supremely in- 

"O thou, who givest sustenance to the world, unveil 
that face of the true sun, which is now hidden by a veil of 
golden light ! so that we may see the truth, and know our 
whole duty." 

" He who inwardly rules the sun is the same immortal 
Spirit who inwardly rules thee." 

"That All : pervading Spirit, which gives light to the 
visible sun, even the same in kind am I, though infinitely 
distant in degree. Let my soul return to the immortal 
Spirit of God, and then let my body return to dust." 

"I am in this world like a frog in a dry well. Thou 
only, O Lord, art my refuge ; Thou only art my refuge." 

" By one Supreme Ruler is this universe pervaded ; 
even every world in the whole circle of Nature. Enjoy 
pure delight, man, by abandoning all thoughts of this 
perishable world ; and covet not the wealth of any crea- 
ture existing." 


" God, who is perfect wisdom and perfect happiness, ia 
the final refuge of the man who has liberally bestowed hia 
wealth, who has been firm in virtue, and who knows and 
adores the Great One." 

" To those regions where Evil Spirits dwell, and which 
utter darkness involves, surely go after death all such men 
as destroy the purity of their own souls." 

" Preserve thyself from self -sufficiency, and do not covet 
property belonging to another." 

" The way to eternal beatitude is open to him who with- 
out omission speaketh truth." 

" If any one assumes the garb of the religious, without 
doing their works, he is not of the religious. Whatever 
garments he wears, if his works are pure, he belongs to 
the order of pure men. If he wears the dress of a penitent, 
and does not lead the life of a penitent, he belongs to the 
men of the world ; but if he is in the world, and practises 
penitential works, he ought to be regarded as a penitent." 

" Those who observe religious rites, but attend only to 
the worship of the sacred fire, or offerings to saints, or sac- 
rifices to the souls of departed ancestors, or to men and 
other creatures, without attending to the worship of the 
celestial gods, enter into the region of shadows. But those 
who habitually adore the celestial gods only, neglecting the 
worship of the sacred fire, offerings to the saints, to the 
souls of ancestors, to men and other creatures, enter into 
regions of still deeper shadow." 

" Hold the breath, remain without movement, repeat in- 
wardly A. U. M. twelve times, thinking that the soul is one 
with God ; draw in a full supply of breath, and hold it while 
inwardly repeating A. U. M. twenty -four times ; afterward, 
hold the breath while inwardly repeating the same as many 
times as possible, thinking meanwhile of God as perfect 
Being, which can be revealed only by its own light. Con- 
tinue this exercise three months, without fear and without 
idleness. In the fourth month, good Spirits will appear to 
you; in the fifth, you will acquire the qualities of good 
Spirits ; in the sixth, you will become God." 


" He who offers sacrifices, at the prescribed times, is by 
them transported to the Paradise of Indra. His offerings 
make entrance for him into this heaven, and say to him : 
It is the summit of the heavens ; there is the fruit of thy 
good works." 

" All works ought to be regarded merely as means of 
purifying the intelligence, as means to guide the traveller 
to his home." 

"No man can acquire knowledge of the soul without 
abstaining from evil acts, and having control over the 
senses and the mind. Nor can he gain it, though with a 
firm mind, if he is actuated by desire for reward. But 
man may obtain knowledge of the soul by contemplation 
of God." 

" The science of God, leading to absorption in him, is 
one thing; rites, which procure enjoyments, are another. 
Divine science, and rewards belonging to the observance 
of rites, both present themselves to the choice of man. 
He who prefers faith, and despises reward, is endowed with 
wisdom. Little wisdom has he who devotes himself to 
rites for the sake of reward, and thus excludes himself 
from the enjoyment of eternal beatitude. The wisest com- 
prehend that the science of God and the practice of works 
are altogether opposite to each other." 

"The ignorant suppose that the digging of wells, and 
other good works recommended in the Yedas, and the sac- 
rifices therein prescribed, are the most meritorious. They 
have no idea of -the science of God, which is the only source 
of true happiness. By excessive desire for reward, they 
are deprived of this knowledge. They will assuredly ob- 
tain the objects they seek by the practice of works and 
ceremonies ; but when the period of their recompense in 
Paradise has expired, they must descend to the world 
again, subjecting themselves to new transmigrations, into 
the forms of men, or animals, or plants ; liable to birth, 
sorrow, disease, and death. These foolish ones, plunged 
in ignorance, believing themselves wise, resemble the blind 
leading the blind. But men who have maturely considered 
Vol. I.- 


the perishable nature of all advantages that works can pro- 
cure, hermits who live in the forest upon alms, fathers of 
families, endowed with wisdom, worshipping Brahma, prac- 
tising austerities, subduing the senses, these are delivered 
from all sin, and ascend to the highest heaven, where reigns 
the immortal Brahma, as ancient as the world." 

" Though man finds pleasure in that which he sees, hears, 
smells, tastes, and touches, he derives no benefit from the 
pleasure, because the soul, in attaching itself to external 
objects, forgets its high origin, which is The Universal 

" It is the nature of the soul to identify itself with the 
object of its tendency. If it tend toward the world, it 
becomes the world. If it tend toward God, it becomes 

"Men endowed with penetrating insight, with a spirit 
full of wisdom, having withdrawn their senses inward, 
annihilate them. They annihilate the interior senses, by 
subjecting them to the control of intelligence ; they anni- 
hilate intelligence, by submitting it to the soul ; they anni- 
hilate the soul in the collection of souls ; and the collection 
of souls in the One Universal Soul." 

"Saints wise and firm, exempt from passion, assured of 
the soul's divine origin, satisfied solely with the science of 
God, have seen God everywhere present with them, and 
after death have been absorbed in him ; even as the air 
within a jar, by the destruction of the jar, returns to uni- 
versal space." 

" The science of God is not acquired by study of the 
Vedas, nor through retentive memory, nor yet by constant 
hearing of spiritual instruction ; but he who seeks to ob- 
tain it, finds it. The soul renders itself manifest to him." 

" When man has withdrawn heart, soul, and senses, 
from external things, and keeps himself without impulse 
toward them, it is the great degree of union. Then man 
will not fall into error by mistake or negligence. He 
watches incessantly to preserve himself from it. If all .do 
not see the soul, it is because their soul turns the senses 


from her, and makes them tend outward ; for the soul is 
the true controller, and does all she wills." 

"When the sage perceives the Eternal Cause every- 
where present, then abandoning the consequences of good 
works and of bad works, he becomes perfect, and obtains 
complete absorption. The sage who recognizes that God 
resides in all creatures, forgets all idea of duality. He is 
convinced that there is only One real existence, and that 
is God. He directs all his senses toward God only, the 
origin of his own consciousness. He concentres upon him 
all his love, detaches his spirit from all earthly objects, by 
fixing his soul continually upon God. A person thus de- 
voted to God is esteemed the mt>st perfect among the 
adorers of the Divinity." 

" To know that God is, and that all is God, this is the 
substance of the Yedas. When one attains to this, there 
is no more need of reading, or of works ; they are but the 
bark, the straw, the envelope. No more need of them 
when one has the seed, the substance, the Creator. When 
one knows Him by science, he may abandon science, as the 
torch which has conducted him to the end." 

The following is one of the numerous prayers contained 
in the Yedas : " Where they who know the Great One go, 
through holy rites and through piety, thither may fire raise 
me. May fire receive my sacrifices. Mysterious praise to 
Fire! May air waft me thither. May air increase my 
spirits. Mysterious praise to Air ! May the sun draw me 
thither. May the sun enlighten my eye. Mysterious 
praise to the Sun ! May the moon bear me thither. May 
the moon receive my mind. Mysterious praise to the 
Moon ! May the plant Soma lead me thither. May Soma 
bestow on me its hallowed milk. Mysterious praise to 
Soma! May Indra carry me thither. May Indra give me 
strength. Mysterious praise to Indra ! May water lead 
me thither. May water bring me the stream of immor- 
tality. Mysterious praise to the Waters ! Where they who 
know the Great One go, through holy rites and through 
piety, thither may Brahma conduct me. May Brahma 


lead me to the Great One. Mysterious praise to Brahma!" 
The Code of Menu is next in antiquity to the Yedas, and 
ranks the next highest as sacred authority. It is called 
Menu Dherma Shastra, which signifies Ordinances of God. 
Sir William Jones dates its existence one thousand two 
hundred and eighty years before Christ; about three hun- 
dred years later than his date of the Yajur Yeda. This 
Code embraces political regulations as well as religious, and 
up to the present day it forms the basis of the whole civil 
policy of Hindostan. It rests everywhere on the authority 
of the Yedas, quotes them at every page, and is regarded 
with similar reverence. When India came under the gov- 
ernment of Great Britain, it was very desirable to have 
an English translation of their Sacred Laws, that the ad- 
ministration might avoid unnecessary interference with the 
ancient customs of the people. But the Bramin, who read 
them to Sir William Jones, earnestly begged to have his 
name concealed ; so great was the offence of making those 
holy words known to a foreigner. On no account would 
he read them on a forbidden day of the moon, or without 
first performing the ceremonies prescribed in the Yedas, 
previous to reading the Sacred Writing. When the Eng- 
lish obtained leave to translate this Code, they were re- 
quired to promise that it should be bound in silk, or vel- 
vet, and by no means in any kind of leather, which, being 
the skin of an animal, was deemed unclean. The Bramins 
at Benares positively and unanimously refused to assist in 
the translation. 

The book takes its title from Menu Satyavrata, called 
likewise Yaivaswata, or Child of the Sun, also Grandson of 
Brahma, whom Hindoos believe to have escaped from a 
great deluge, and reigned over the whole world in the 
earliest ages of their chronology. He is represented as 
saying: "Brahma, having created this code of laws, him- 
self taught it fully to me in the beginning. Afterward, 
I taught it to Marishi and the nine other holy sages." 

He thus describes creation : — " This world was all dark- 
ness, undiscernible, undistinguishable altogether, as in a 


profound sleep, till the self-existing, invisible God, making 
it manifest with five elements, and other glorious forms, 
perfectly dispelled the gloom. Having willed to produce 
various beings from his own divine essence, he first with a 
thought created the waters, and placed in them a produc- 
tive seed. This seed became a golden egg blazing like a 
thousand suns. In this egg he was himself born in the 
form of Brahma, the great Father of all Spirits. The 
Great Power remained inactive in the egg a whole year, at 
the close of which he caused the egg to divide itself, and 
from its two divisions he framed the heavens above and 
the earth beneath. In the midst he placed the subtile 
ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of 
waters. From the Supreme Soul he drew forth Mind, ex- 
isting substantially, though immaterial, and unperceived 
by sense." Vishnu is described as assisting in the creation 
of the world, under the name of Karayana, " The Spirit 
Moving on the Waters." In common with other Asiatic 
nations, they suppose creation to have taken place in six. 
successive periods, and that man and woman were formed 

The following extracts will serve to give some idea of 
the Code of Menu : 

" To patriarchs, to deities, and to mankind, the Scripture 
is an eye giving constant light. The Yeda Shastra could 
not be made by human faculties, nor can it be measured 
by human reason." 

" The brrth which man derives from his parents is 
merely human ; that which the Yedas procure for him is 
the true birth, exempt from age or death." 

"To a man contaminated by sensuality, neither the 
Yedas, nor liberality, nor sacrifices, nor strict observances, 
nor pious austerities, will procure felicity." 

" A wise man must faithfully discharge all moral duties, 
even though he does not constantly perform the ceremo 
nies of religion. He will fall very low, if he performs cere- 
monial acts only, and fails to discharge his moral duties." 

" By honouring his father, mother, and sister, a man effec- 


tually does whatever ought to be done. This is the high- 
est duty, and every other is subordinate. All duties are 
performed by him who completely honours these three ; but 
to him by whom they are dishonoured, all other acts are 

"Whatever oblations a man actuated by strong faith 
piously offers, as the sacred laws have directed, become a 
perpetual unperishable gratification to his ancestors in the 
other world." 

" Those rulers of the earth, who, desirous of defending 
each other, exert their utmost strength in battle, without 
ever averting their faces, ascend after death directly to 

" He whose sins are mostly corporeal, will assume after 
death a vegetable or mineral form ; for sins mostly verbal, 
he will assume the form of a bird or beast ; for sins merely 
mental, he will again assume a human form, but in some 
of its lower conditions. An unauthorized teacher of the 
Sacred Books will return into a dumb body. He who 
steals a lamp, will be born blind." 

" A Bramin who drinks spirituous liquors, shall migrate 
into the form of a worm, or a fly feeding on ordure, or of 
some ravenous animal." 

" Any twice-born man, who has intentionally drank 
spirit of rice, through perverse delusion of mind, ought to 
swallow more spirit in flame, and thus atone for his offence 
by severely burning his body." 

" Should a Bramin, who has once tasted the holy juice 
of the Moon-plant, so much as smell the breath of a man 
who drinks intoxicating spirits, he must remove the taint 
by thrice repeating the Grayatree, while he suppresses his 
breath in water; and by eating clarified butter after that 

" He who explains the Law to a man of servile caste, 
and instructs him in the mode of expiating sin, (except by 
the aid of the Bramins,) sinks with that man into the hell 
called Asamorita." 

" A Soodra, though emancipated by his master, is not re- 


leased from a state of servitude ; for such a man was cre- 
ated by the Supreme Being for the purpose of serving 
Bramins. No superfluous collection of wealth may be 
made by a Soodra, even though he have power to make 
it; since a servile man who has amassed riches becomes 
proud, and gives pain even to the Bramins." 

" If a wife speak unkindly to her husband, she may be 
superseded by another without delay." 

" A woman is never fit for independence." 

" A man untainted with covetousness may be sole wit- 
ness, and may have more weight than many women ; be- 
cause the female understanding is apt to waver." 

" Whatever exists in the universe is all, in effect, though 
not in form, the wealth of the Bramin ; since he is entitled 
to it by his primogeniture and eminence in rank." 

" He who mentions a Bramin with contumely should 
have an iron style, ten fingers long, thrust red-hot into his 
mouth. He who, through pride, attempts to give instruc- 
tions to the Bramins concerning their duty, should have 
hot oil dropped into his mouth and ears." 

"Let not the king, though in the greatest distress, pro- 
voke the Bramins to anger ; for, if once enraged, they 
could, by sacrifices and imprecations, immediately destroy 
him, with his troops, elephants, horses, and chariots." 

"No greater crime is known on earth than killing a 
Bramin. The king must not even form in his own mind 
the idea of slaying a priest. He must never put a Bramin 
to death, fhough convicted of all possible crimes. He may 
banish the offender from his realm, but with all his prop- 
erty secure, and his body uninjured." 

"Let the murderer of a Bramin voluntarily stand as a 
mark for the most skilful archers ; or throw himself into 
the fire three times, his whole length ; or walk a hundred 
leagues reciting a Veda, eating little, and keeping all his 
senses subdued ; or make a pilgrimage to the source of the 
Sarawasti, nourishing himself only on wild seeds ; or recite 
the collection of Vedas three times, without taking nour- 
ishment ; or expose his life to save a cow, or a Bramin. 


Thus may he expiate the unintentional murder of a Bra- 
min ; but if the crime be committed with premeditation 
there is no way in which it can be expiated." 

" He who has committed incest, ought to walk constantly 
in a south-west direction, till he falls dead from exhaustion ; 
or embrace a red-hot statue ; or lie on a burning fire ; thus 
will he be purified by death." 

"He who, having committed a sin, makes parade of 
penances and meritorious acts, concealing his crime under 
an appearance of sanctity, thus deceiving women and ser- 
vants, such Bramins are accursed in this life, and after 
death, by all those who pronounce the name of Brahma." 
[That is, by Bramins.] 

"Let no father, who knows the law, receive a gratuity, 
however small, for giving his daughter in marriage. The 
man, who through avarice takes a gratuity for that pur- 
pose, is a seller of his offspring." 

"Let a widow emaciate her body, by living voluntarily 
on pure flowers, roots, and fruit. When her lord is de- 
ceased, let her not even pronounce the name of another 
man. Let her continue till death forgiving all injuries, 
performing harsh duties, avoiding every pleasure of the 
senses, and cheerfully practising the incomparable rules of 
virtue, which have been followed by such women as were 
devoted only to one husband. Many thousands of Bra- 
mins, having avoided sensuality from early youth, though 
they have left no issue in their families, have nevertheless 
ascended to heaven. And, like those abstemious men, a 
virtuous wife ascends to heaven, though she have no child, 
if, after the decease of her lord, she devote herself to pious 
austerity. But a widow, who, from a wish to bear children, 
slights her deceased husband by marrying again, brings 
disgrace on herself here below, and shall be excluded from 
the seat of her lord." 

"The Bramin who has not caused the least fear to any 
creature whatsoever, has nothing to fear after he has quitted 
his body." 

" In whatever occupation Brahma first employed any 


vital soul, to that occupation the same soul attaches itself 
spontaneously, when it receives a new body, again and 
again. Whatever quality, noxious or innocent, harsh or 
mild, just or unjust, false or true, conferred on any being 
at its creation, the same quality enters it of course on its 
future births." 

11 The sacrifice required of Bramins is to gain knowledge 
and instruct others; of the Cshatriyas, that they protect 
others; of the Vaisyas, that they supply wants by com- 
merce ; of the Soodras, that they serve others." 

"Some make sacrifice of their breath, by instructing 
others of God ; some make sacrifice of their speech, by 
meditating upon God in silence. In speech and breath, 
thus employed, they perceive the imperishable fruits of 
true sacrificial offerings." 

" Thoughts, words, the actions of the body, produce 
fruits happy or pernicious. From these result the superior, 
middling, and inferior transmigrations of men." 

"By overcoming the senses, by suppressing joy and 
hate, man obtains immortality. Let the anchorite not re- 
joice to die, or wish to live; but wait for death as a day- 
laborer waits for him who assigned his task. Let him 
endure injuries, and despise no person. Let him be care- 
ful to commit no hostile action, out of care for his own 
preservation. Let him not be offended with those who are 
angry with him, but reply gently to those who curse him. 
Finding his pleasure in the contemplation of the Supreme 
Spirit, let him attach himself to nothing ; but seek happi- 
ness in communion with himself." 

"Like a tree carried far from the river which saw its 
birth, like a bird that flies from the branch where it rested, 
man ought to free himself from the body ; for thus will he 
see himself delivered from the devouring monster of this 
world. Leaving the reward of good works to those who 
value it, and to his enemies the weight of his faults, he 
passes from contemplation to the bosom of eternal di- 

" The soul itself is its own witness and its own refuge. 
Vol. L— 5 o 


Offend not thy conscious soul, the supreme internal wit- 
ness of men ! The sinful have said in their hearts, None 
see us. Yet the gods distinctly see them, and so does the 
Spirit within their own breasts. The guardian deities of 
the firmament, of the earth, of the waters, of the human 
heart, of the moon, of the sun, and of fire, of punishment 
after death, of the winds, of night, of both twilights, and 
of justice, perfectly know the state of all spirits clothed 
with bodies. Oh, friend to virtue ! that Supreme Spirit, 
which thou believest one and the same with thyself, resides 
in thy own bosom perpetually, -and is an all-knowing in- 
spector of thy goodness or thy wickedness. If, by speak- 
ing falsely, thou art not at variance with Yama the sub- 
duer of all, with Vaivaswata the punisher, with that Great 
Divinity that dwells in thy own breast, go not on a pil- 
grimage to the river Ganges, nor to the plains of Curu ; 
for thou hast no need of expiation." 

Next to the Yedas, and the Code of Menu, the most an- 
cient and the most venerated of the Sacred Books are two 
epic poems, called The Ramayana, and The Mahabharata. 
The extreme antiquity of both is proved by sculptures on 
exceedingly ancient temples, carved in solid rock. The 
subject of the Ramayana is the victory of the divine hero 
Rama, over Ravana, prince of the wicked genii, called 
Rakshasas. Evil Spirits came near gaining ascendancy 
over the benevolent Deities, because the latter had bound 
themselves by a promise to make their adversaries invul- 
nerable, and they could not violate their word. There- 
fore, no one but a mortal could subdue the Prince of Evil ; 
and it must be a mortal of superhuman endowments. In 
this emergency, the gods besought Yishnu to become a 
man. He accordingly divided himself into four parts, and 
assumed the mortal shape of four brothers, of whom Rama 
was chief. But all the time that he was on earth in a hu- 
man body, he remained the same Yishnu in celestial regions. 
In the course of his adventures in this world, he was ban- 
ished by the king, and retired into a forest with his bro- 
ther Lakshman and his wife Sita. There they all led the 


life of holy penitents, and became renowned for miracles. 
After various contests with Evil Spirits, the god-man at 
last destroyed their prince Ravana, and brought them all 
into subjection. He then returned in glory to his celestial 
abode, taking with him those who had assisted his labors 
on earth. 

The Ramayana is principally occupied with the battles 
and miracles of Rama, but moral maxims and theological 
doctrines are occasionally interspersed. The following 
precept is an antique gem: — "-The sacrifice of a thousand 
horses has been put in the balance with one true word, 
and the one true word weighed down the thousand sacri- 
fices. No virtue surpasses that of veracity. It is by truth 
alone that men attain to the highest mansions of bliss. 
Men faithless to the truth, however much they may seek 
supreme happiness, will not obtain it, even though they 
offer a thousand sacrifices. There are two roads which 
conduct to perfect virtue ; to be true, and to do no evil to 
any creature." 

The primitive city, founded by Menu, the first ruler of 
mankind, is thus described in the Ramayana : "It abounded 
with merchants of all sorts, male and female dancers, ele- 
phants, horses, and chariots. It was filled with riches, 
decorated with precious stones, abundantly supplied with 
all manner of provisions, beautified with temples and pal- 
aces, whose lofty summits equalled the mountains, adorned 
with baths and gardens, and thickly planted with mango 
trees. The air was fragrant with the perfume of flowers, 
with incense, and the sweet-smelling savour of sacrificial 
offerings. It was inhabited by twice-born men [the regen- 
erated], who were profoundly learned in the Yedas, en- 
dowed with excellent qualities, full of sincerity, zeal, and 
compassion, and perfectly masters of their passions and de- 
sires. There was no covetous person in the city, no liar, 
no deceiver, no one of an evil or implacable disposition. 
None of the inhabitants lived less than one thousand years, 
and all left a numerous offspring. None of them went 
without ear-rings, necklaces, garlands, perfumes, and rich- 


\j ornamented garments. No one gave the Bramins less 
than one thousand rupees; and none flinched from per- 
forming the duties appropriate to their respective situa- 

The Mahabharata commemorates a later incarnation of 
Yishnu in the form of Crishna, and is supposed to be some- 
what less ancient in date. Bramins attribute it to Yyasa, 
and say it was written before their era, the commencement 
of the Cali Yug ; consequently more than five thousand 
years ago. Wilkins, the learned Oriental scholar, thinks 
there is satisfactory evidence of its being four thousand 
years old. Sir William Jones places it seven hundred 
years later. Sculptures on the old rock temples prove 
that they have not assigned too great antiquity to either 
of these poems. They abound with the adventures of 
gods, goddesses, and heroes, described with the vast accu- 
mulation of incidents and glittering redundancy of me- 
taphor characteristic of Asiatic writings. The veneration 
in which they were held introduced many new ceremonies 
into worship, and greatly complicated theological machi- 
nery. Heeren says : " The Vedas were the real source of 
Hindoo religion ; but their mythology came from later epic 
poems." The subject of the Mahabharata is the contest 
between two branches of the royal family, the Coros and 
the Pandos ; during which Crishna sustains his relatives, 
the Pandos. This event is as famous in their ancient tra* 
ditions, as was the Trojan war among the Greeks. The 
poem contains a celebrated episode, called the Bhagavat 
Greeta, from which extracts will be given in the following 
pages. It relates the history and conversations of Yishnu, 
while on earth in the form of Crishna. The subjugation 
of the passions and desires, as a means of attaining to com- 
plete holiness, forms its moral system. Heeren observes 
that " the poetry of no other nation exhibits the didactic 
character in such a striking manner as that of the Hin- 
doos ; for no other people were so thoroughly imbued with 
the persuasion that to give and receive instruction was the 
sole ultimate object of life." 


There is a set of less ancient Sacred Books, called Pou- 
ranas, which means Old Legends. They consist princi- 
pally of traditions concerning gods and men ; such as the 
history of the Deluge, of their holy city Benares, the ad- 
ventures of Siva, and the various incarnations of Vishnu. 
These books form the basis of modern popular theology 
in India. They have nearly superseded the Yedas, and 
being far less spiritual, they indicate the degeneracy which 
they have rapidly hastened. Sir William Jones gives a 
list of eighteen ; believed to have been composed by holy 
men, who, through devout contemplation and self-annihi- 
lating practices, received inspiration directly from the Di- 
vine Source. They contain internal evidence of being 
written at different epochs, but there are no means of arriv- 
ing at correct dates. Oriental scholars suppose they were 
not collected together until after the time of Alexander the 
Great, who was born three hundred and fifty -six years be- 
fore Christ. Some of them ascribe more honour to Vishnu, 
others to Siva, whose adventures are described with the 
wildest range of imagination. The ancient doctrine of 
One Invisible God is almost entirely lost sight of. Large 
portions of them are filled with rules for external ceremo- 
nies ; but in some of the dialogues such questions as these 
are started : 

"What are the Three Principal Powers? How came 
Brahma into existence ? How did he create the world ? 
How is the soul united to the body? How is it absorbed 
into the GoTlhead? What are the various forms assumed 
by Vishnu? What is holiness? What are good works? 
What is the object of all these things ?" 

Father Bouchet, in his "Letters from Hindostan," quotes 
the following account from one of the Pouranas : 

" The inferior Spirits, who, ever since creation, have been 
multiplying themselves almost to infinity, did not at first 
enjoy the privilege of immortality. After numberless ef- 
forts to procure it, they had recourse to a Tree, which grew 
in Paradise, and by eating its fruit they became immortal. 
A Serpent, called Chien, appointed to guard the Tree of 
Vol. I.— 5* 


Life, was so exasperated by their proceedings, that he 
poured out a great quantity of poison. The whole earth felt 
the terrible effects of it ; and not one mortal would have 
escaped, had not the god Chiven taken pity on the human 
race, revealed himself under the shape of a man, and swal- 
lowed the poison." In their old sacred places, this tradi 
tion is commemorated by representations of a Tree, a 
Serpent, and human figures eating of the fruit. 

Menu Satyavrata, author of the Code of Menu, is repre- 
resented as a saint who attained to such extreme spiritu* 
ality, that he subsisted entirely on water. The following 
account of his escape from the Deluge is taken from the 
Bhagavat Greeta : — " One day, when Brahma was inclined to 
slumber, the giant demon Ha} T agriva stole the four Yedas, 
swallowed them, and concealed himself in the sea. Vishnu, 
the Pervader and Preserver of the Universe, discovered 
the deed, and, assuming the shape of a small fish, he ap- 
peared to Menu. The saint recognized him to be an in- 
carnated divinity by his immense growth in a few days. 
Suspecting him to be Vishnu, he thus addressed him : ' O 
thou Lotus-eyed, let me not approach in vain the feet of a 
deity, whose perfect benevolence has been extended to all, 
when, to our amazement, thou hast shown thvself in 
bodies, not indeed existing in reality, but successively ex- 

" The Lord of the Universe, loving the holy man, and in- 
tending to preserve him from the sea of destruction, caused 
by the wickedness of the age, thus addressed him : ' O thou 
tamer of enemies, in seven days from this time, the three 
worlds will be plunged in an ocean of death. But in the 
midst of the destroying waves, a large vessel, sent by me 
for thy use, shall stand before thee. Then shalt thou take 
all medicinal herbs, all variety of seeds, and accompanied 
by seven saints, with your respective wives, encircled by 
pairs of all brute animals, thou shalt enter the capacious 
ship, and continue in it, on an immense ocean, secure from 
the flood, and without light, except from the radiance of 
thy holy companions. When the ship shall be agitated 


by impetuous winds, thou shalt fasten it with a large sea- 
serpent to my horn; for I will be near thee. Menu Saty- 
avrata complied with these directions ; and the Primeval 
Male [Brahma], speaking aloud to his own Divine Essence, 
pronounced for the instruction of Menu a Sacred History, 
explaining the principle of the soul and of external being. 
Vishnu then slew the demon, and recovered the Sacred 
Books. But the appearance of the horned fish was an illu- 

The ancient temples of Hindostan contain representa- 
tions of Vishnu sustaining the earth while overwhelmed 
with the waters of the Deluge and convulsed by demons. 
A rainbow is seen on the surface of the subsiding waters. 

The following is translated from the Padma Pourana : — 
" To Menu Satyavrata, that sovereign of the whole earth, 
were born three sons. The oldest was Sherma, then Charma, 
then Jyapeti. They were all men of good morals, excel- 
lent in virtuous deeds, skilled in the use of weapons, either 
to strike with, or be thrown, brave .men, eager for victory 
in battle. But Satyavrata, being continually delighted 
with devout meditation, and seeing his sons fit for domin- 
ion, laid upon them the burden of government, whilst he 
remained honouring and satisfying the gods, and priests, 
and kine. One day, by the act of destiny, the king, having 
drunk mead, became senseless and lay asleep naked. Thus 
was he seen by Charma, and by him were his two brothers 
called. To whom he said : ' What now has befallen ? In 
what state is this our sire ?' By those two was he hidden 
with clothes, and called to his senses again and again. 
Having recovered his intellect, and perfectly knowing 
what had passed, he cursed Charma, saying: 'Thou shalt 
be the servant of servants ; and since thou wast a laughter 
in their presence, from laughter shalt thou acquire a name.' 
Then he gave to Sherma the wide domain on the south of 
the snowy mountains ; and to Jyapeti he gave all on the 
north of the snowy mountains. But he himself, by the 
power of religious contemplation, attained supreme bliss." 

One of the Pouranas contains the following description 


of the wedding between Siva the Generator, and Parvati, 
Goddess of Enchantments. It is probably a poetical al- 
legory, to commemorate the beautiful phenomena of Na- 
ture's renovation in the Spring. " All the inhabitants of 
the celestial regions were summoned to arrange the ce- 
remonials of marriage between Siva and Parvati. First 
came Brahma, mounted on his swan ; next, Yishnu, riding 
his eagle. The rivers Ganges and Jumna, and the seven 
seas ; the Gandharvas, and the Asparas ; Yasooke, and 
other serpents ; all ornamented with superb chains and 
ceremonial dresses, in obedience to the commands of Siva, 
were to be seen in the glittering cavalcade. Siva set out 
from the mountain Kailasa with the utmost pomp and 
splendour. His third eye flamed like the sun, and the cres- 
cent on his forehead assumed the form of a radiated 
diadem. His snakes were exchanged for chains of pearls 
and rubies, his ashes for sandal-wood and perfumes, and 
his elephant's skin for a silken robe. The Gandharvas and 
the Asparas joined in melodious songs, and the Ginarers 
with the magic of their musical instruments. Nature as- 
sumed the appearance of renovated youth ; the earth 
exulted with acclamations of glory and triumph ; fresh 
moisture invigorated the withered victims of time ; a 
thousand happy and animating conceptions inspired the 
hearts of the intelligent, and enlightened the wisdom of the 
thoughtful ; the kingdom of external forms obtained glad- 
ness ; the world of intellect acquired brightness. The 
dwellers upon earth filled the casket of their ideas with 
jewels of delight, and reverend pilgrims exchanged their 
rosaries for pearls. The joy of those on earth ascended up 
to heaven; and the tree of bliss in heaven extended its 
branches downward to the earth. The eyes of the gods 
flamed like torches at sight of this enrapturing scene, and 
the hearts of the just kindled like touchwood while they 
listened to the ravishing symphonies. Siva set off like a 
garden in full bloom, and Paradise was eclipsed by his 

In relation to the amours of the gods, the Pouranas say : 


'" Adultery is a sin against the laws established in our 
societies ; but Divine Beings are not subject to our laws of 
convenience. The incomprehensible views of God ought 
not to be confounded with those of men. There are ac- 
tions of which the end is unknown, which would be crim- 
inal for us, but would not be so for either gods or saints ; 
for holiness, like fire, purifies all things." 

The episode from the Mahabharata, called Bhagavat- 
Geeta, forms one volume of the Pouranas. It is more 
beautiful in style, and more spiritual in its teaching, than 
any of the others. According to the triple division of 
duties common among Hindoos, it prescribes three kinds of 
penance. " Penance of the body, to be chaste, and free from 
all offences ; penance of words, to speak always with kind- 
ness and truth, and to read the Sacred Books diligently ; 
penance of thoughts, to subdue one's self, to purify the soul, 
to be silent, and disposed to benevolence." 

" To practise penance to obtain dignity or fame, or to 
give one's self an air of sanctity, is a penance little worth, 
and has its source in inferior influences on the soul. Pen- 
ances performed by a man attached to foolish doctrines, or 
those which consist in self-torment, or those whose end is 
to do injury to another, these have their source in the 
region of shadows." 

" God resides in the heart of all creatures." 

" When thy spirit shall have become perfectly free from 
the labyrinths in which it is involved, then thou wilt ar- 
rive at indifference concerning the Yedas and the sacred 

It is stated in the Pouranas that the Yedas were carried 
from India to Egypt, by a noble and blameless race of 
men, called Yadavas, who emigrated thither on account of 
the persecutions of a tyrant named Cansa ; and that after- 
ward a race of men called Pali, or Shepherds, went from 
India and conquered Egypt. 

The idea that a dead uniformity of opinion prevails in 
Asiatic countries, is a mistake, originating in our ignorance 
of their internal history. There is certainly far less acti- 



vity of mind than in Europe, and of course changes are 
more slow and limited in effect. But the same questions, 
which have agitated the theological schools of Europe, 
have disturbed the East also, under forms modified by their 
circumstances. They have an immense number of com- 
mentaries on their Sacred Books, filled with nice metaphy- 
sical distinctions and intricate arguments concerning dis- 
puted texts. 

The division of the Yedas into two distinct portions, one 
teaching spiritual doctrines concerning the unity of God 
and the communion of the soul with Him, while the other 
prescribed elaborate ceremonials and the worship of many 
symbolical deities, originated in the idea that it was impos- 
sible to elevate the minds of the populace to the contem- 
plation of One Invisible Spirit, and, therefore, it was neces- 
sary to clothe religious ideas in forms suited to their com- 
prehension. Thus while higher doctrines were reserved 
for sages, the worship of external symbols was not only al- 
lowed to the ignorant, but absolutely prescribed, though 
always represented as far inferior to the contemplation of 
One Unchangeable Being. 

The people accustomed to worship images of symbolical 
deities, soon chose one or another of them for a favourite, 
and regarded it as Grod himself. Thus, there grew up a 
very large body of worshippers of Siva, called Sivaites. 
All that the Yedas ascribe to the Supreme Being, they as- 
cribe to Siva. When they speak of the final state of holi- 
ness at which a perfect saint arrives, they call it the ab- 
sorption of his soul into Siva. They have a Sacred Book, 
which they say is a revelation from Siva ; and they deny 
the possibility of salvation to those who do not believe in 
his incarnation therein described. Whenever one of his 
true worshippers dies, they believe he sends some of his 
attendant Spirits to usher the soul into his presence, and 
become a sharer of his felicity. 

Another sect, nearly as numerous, adore the Supreme 
Being under the name of Vishnu, and are therefore called 
Yishnuites. Bramins alone officiate as priests among 


them, as among the other sects ; but they allow people of 
all castes to devote themselves to the contemplative life. 
They eat no flesh, refrain from bloody sacrifices, and are 
peculiarly distinguished by their tenderness towards ani- 
mals. That portion of the Pouranas which favours this 
worship declares : u The devotees of Vishnu alone are in a 
situation to surmount the illusion of appearances. It is 
advantageous and meritorious to be born man ; still more 
so to be born a Bramin ; but a Bramin may corrupt him- 
self and become abject. There is incomparably more merit 
and more nobleness in the practice of true devotion ; but 
rigorous penances, long prayers, frequent ablutions, alms- 
giving, vows, and sacrifices, have no merit, and confer no 
beatitude, without this devotion to Vishnu." 

" To avoid the pains of hell there are no means more 
efficacious than to remember Yishnu, and invoke his sacred 
name. Yes, his divine names have so much virtue, that 
even if pronounced without design, or by mistake, they 
will not fail to produce salutary effects." 

The author of this Pourana goes on to tell the history of 
a Bramin, who had given himself up to all manner of vices. 
One of his sons was named Narayana, a title of Yishnu, 
signifying Moving on the Waters. "When the wicked Bra- 
min was dying, he called this son, without thinking that 
he was repeating one of the names of Yishnu. But the 
sacred word, thus carelessly pronounced, saved him from 
all his sins, and immediately opened for him the gates of 

All Hindoo theology teaches the pre-existence of souls, 
who are gliding through the universe, and assuming mul- 
tifarious forms, till they complete the great circle of des- 
tiny, and become the Supreme Soul again, as they were at 
the beginning. The belief that Spirits descended from 
their original sphere and became men, that by holiness they 
might become beatified spirits in Paradise, and then return 
to earth to be born again in some new form of mortal ex- 
istence, naturally gave rise to the idea that men remark- 
able for wisdom or holiness had descended from some 


higher sphere, and were in fact gods incarnated in a hu- 
man form to fulfil some great mission. The Invisible One, 
who could only be contemplated by an abstraction of the 
intellect, was too far removed from a great majority of 
minds; and even the powerful emanations, Yishnu and 
Siva, appealed to their sympathies far more strongly when 
brought down to them in the persons of mortals who lived 
in their midst. Hence we meet everywhere with warriors 
and saints, who were believed to be deities in disguise. 
History and mythology consequently mix together in such 
a confused tangle, that it is often impossible to tell where 
the adventures of the king or warrior end, and those of the 
god begin. 

The Yishnuites split into two principal sects. One is 
more devoted to Yishnu in the form of Kama; the other be- 
lieves that his eighth incarnation in the form of Crishna 
was the most perfect and the most efficacious. Both were 
princes, and holy men, and great workers of miracles. The 
advent of Yishnu under the name of Crishna is the most 
poetic and the most remarkable. The Bramins date it be- 
fore the Cali Yug ; that is, more than five thousand years 
ago. The following account is abridged from the Bhaga- 
vat Geeta, which Sir William Jones supposes to have been 
written one thousand four hundred and fifty-one years be- 
fore the birth of Christ : — 

The earth was so oppressed by the dominion of Evil 
Spirits, that she could no longer endure their injustice. 
Assuming the form of a cow, she appeared before Indra, 
and complained of her wrongs. He referred her to Siva, 
who, in his turn, sent her to Yishnu. Yishnu escorted her 
to the Temple of Brahma the Invisible, on the borders of 
the Milky Sea. There the oracle commanded him to be- 
come a man, and be born in the city of Matra, under the 
name of Crishna. Yishnu replied : " I will become incar- 
nate in the house of Yadu, and will issue forth to mortal 
birth from the womb of Devaci. It is time I should dis- 
play my power, and relieve the oppressed earth from its 


Devaci was the sister of a tyrannical king named Cansa, 
whose oppressions are said to have caused the first emigra- 
tion to Egypt. He married her to a Bramin named Yasu- 
deva, descended from the Yadus, or Yadavas, the oldest 
and noblest line in India. Eeturning from the wedding, 
Cansa heard a prophetic voice declare, " The eighth son of 
Devaci is destined to be thy destroyer." Alarmed at this 
omen, he put his sister and her husband into a strong 
prison guarded by seven iron doors, and whenever a son 
was born to them he caused him to be immediately de- 
stroyed. When Devaci became pregnant the eighth time, 
her countenance was radiant with celestial light. Brahma 
and Siva, with a host of attendant spirits, came to her and 
sang : " In thy delivery, favoured among women, all na- 
ture shall have cause to exult. How ardently we long to 
behold that face for the sake of which we have coursed 
round three worlds!" The seasons preceding this mar- 
vellous birth were uncommonly regular and genial, the 
planets were unusually brilliant, strong winds were hushed, 
rivers glided tranquilly, and the virtuous experienced ex 
traordinary delights. In the month Bhadron, at deep 
midnight, when the Sustainer of All was about to be born, 
the clouds emitted low musical sounds, and poured down a 
rain of flowers. When the celestial infant appeared, a 
chorus of heavenly Spirits saluted him with hymns. The 
whole room was illuminated by his light, and the counte- 
nances of his father and mother emitted rays of glory. 
Their understandings were opened, they knew him to be 
the Preserver of the World, and began to worship him. 
But he soon closed their minds, so that they thought he 
was merely a human child born unto them. While his 
mother was weeping over him, and lamenting the cruel 
decrees of her tyrannical brother, a voice was distinctly 
heard, saying: " Son of Yadu, carry this child to Gokul, on 
the other side of the river Jumna, to ISTanda, whose wife 
has just given birth to a daughter. Leave him, and bring 
the girl hither." Yasudeva inquired : " How is that pos- 
sible in a prison so closely guarded ?" The voice replied : 
Yol. I.— 6 


" The doors will open of themselves, and I have caused a 
deep sleep to fall upon all the guards." Then Yasudeva 
took the child in his arms, the doors opened, and he passed 
out. Being in the rainy season, the current of the river 
Jumna was rapid and strong ; but when the divine child 
approached, the waters rose up to kiss his feet, then re- 
spectfully retired on either side and left a dry pathway. 
The great hooded serpent of Yishnu held her head over 
him all the way, instead of an umbrella. When they ar- 
rived at Kanda's house, the door opened of itself. He and 
his wife were asleep. He took their infant daughter in his 
arms, and left the boy with them. When he returned, the 
river again separated to offer him free passage, the prison 
gates opened, the guards were all asleep, and he delivered 
the girl to his wife. Representations of this flight with the 
babe at midnight are sculptured on the walls of ancient 
Hindoo temples. 

ISTanda, who had long wished for a son, was delighted 
when he woke and found a beautiful boy sleeping by the 
side of his wife. He named him Crishna, in allusion to 
his colour, which was blueish black. Even in infancy he 
attracted attention by the miracles he performed. His 
foster-father had many herds, which Crishna assisted in 
tending. On one occasion, a great serpent poisoned the 
river, so that the cows and the shepherd-boys, who drank 
of the water, lay dead on the banks in great numbers. 
Crishna merely looked on them with an eye of divine 
mercy, and they all came to life, and rose up. Afterward 
he destroyed the great serpent. On another occasion the 
cattle and the shepherd-boys were all stolen and carried 
off. Crishna, by a simple exertion of his will, created 
others so exactly like them, that no one could discern a 
difference. Once, when the dairy-maids complained to his 
foster-mother that he had been eating the curds and drink- 
ing the milk, he opened his mouth and asked her to see if 
there were any curds there. She looked in, and, to her 
great astonishment, beheld the whole universe in the plen- 
itude of its magnificence. [This alludes to their doctrine 


that the Supreme Being contains the whole universe in 

Once, seeing a festival in preparation, he inquired the 
reason. They told him it was in honour of Indra, by whose 
propitiation rain would descend to revive vegetables, and 
refresh man and beast. He asked whether any rain fell in 
those places where men did not propitiate Indra ; and he 
received no answer. He then told them that rain fell by 
the power of an Almighty Being, of whom Indra himself 
stood in need. That good and evil, pleasure and pain, 
were the ordained lot of each individual, and Indra had 
nothing to do with it. He therefore proposed that a por- 
tion of the offerings prepared for the festival should be 
given to the Bramins, another portion to the cows, and the 
remainder distributed among the poor. This proposal was 
greatly admired by wise men in the assembly, but those 
of more narrow views deemed it improper that a child 
Should presume to interfere with the affairs of the gods. 
However, they were in the end governed by his advice. 
Indra, displeased at the loss of his offerings, sent a deluge 
of rain. Crishna told the people to take refuge on a moun- 
tain, with their flocks and herds. When they had done 
so, he lifted the mountain on his little finger and held it 
above the storm, with as much ease as if it had been a 

In the performance of these miracles, he assumed no 
other appearance than the infantine one, which belonged 
to him when he took on himself the veil of mortality. He 
wore no panoply but the sacred shell, and the innocence 
of a little child. Men, seeing the wonders he performed, 
told ISTanda he could not possibly be his son ; that he must 
be the Great Being, who is exempt from birth and death. 
He replied : " Yes, it must indeed be so. When I named 
him Crishna, on account of his colour, the priest told me he 
must be the God, who had taken different bodies, red, 
white, yellow, and black, in his various incarnations, and 
now he had assumed a black colour again, since in black all 
colours are absorbed." 


When Indra discovered who was disguised in the form 
of that wonderful child, he was abashed at his own pre- 
sumption, and threw himself at his feet with most submis- 
sive apologies. Crishna readily forgave him. The Gina- 
rers and Gandharvas, who accompanied Indra, threw 
down a shower of blossoms ; new leaves burst forth from 
trees and shrubs ; the waters of the river rose up with 
transport, and sprinkled rubies and diamonds. 

Meanwhile, a prophetic voice had told Cansa : " The 
boy who is destined to destroy thee is born, and is now 
living." As soon as he heard that, he gave orders that all 
the male children throughout his kingdom should be put 
to death. Among the sculptures in the cave-temple at 
Elephanta, is a conspicuous figure with a drawn sword, 
surrounded by slaughtered infants. It is supposed to al- 
lude to this part of Crishna's history. All methods taken 
to destroy the divine child proved ineffectual. The mes- 
senger, whom the king sent to kill him, found him neaf 
the river. As he approached, he saw reflected in the water 
an image of Crishna radiant in celestial beauty, and innu- 
merable Spirits standing before him, with their hands 
joined in adoration. He immediately did the same, and 
thus united in their worship of the incarnate god : "O thou 
Supreme One ! thy essence is inscrutable, but its shadow 
is in all bodies, like the image of the sun reflected in vases 
of water. If the vase be broken, where is the image? 
Yet the sun is neither increased by the vases, or dimin- 
ished by their fracture. In like manner, thou art all in 
all. The understanding of finite man cannot reach thy 
almighty power. Well may it escape the sight of myself 
and other mortals, who are a prey to earthly desires, when 
the mightiest spirits, even Brahma and Siva, are lost in 
astonishment. I, who know nothing, fly to thee for pro- 
tection. Show mercy upon me, and enable me to see and 
know thee." When Crishna asked why he seemed so 
amazed, he replied : " Sovereign Lord, thou well knowest 
what I have seen in the water." The divine child merely 
smiled, and passed on. 


. He knew the secret thoughts of all who came into his 
presence, and could at once detect Evil Spirits under any 
disguise they might assume. A terrible bull with fiery 
eyes was sent to destroy him. But he said calmly: "I 
know what Evil Spirit thou art in that disguise. If any 
disease makes thee thus frantic, I will cure thee." The fu- 
rious beast rushed forward to kill him, but Crishna seized 
him and twisted his enormous head from his body. At 
another time he was swallowed by a crocodile, but he 
burned him so intolerably, that the ravenous animal threw 
him up, and cast him from his mouth unhurt. 

He is described as a youth of perfect beauty ; with 
breast broad and high, waist of elegant proportions, grace- 
ful limbs, a foot like the lotus-blossom, smooth skin, ruby 
lips, and a smile of ineffable sweetness. Women left their 
work unfinished, to run and gaze after him, as he passed 
by. In the family of Nanda, he had for companions 
young dairy -maids, called Gopias. In early youth, he 
selected as favourites nine of these damsels, with whom 
he spent his leisure hours in dancing and playing on the 
flute. Cama, God of Love, found no greater joy than 
spending his nights with them in dance and song. Crishna 
played so ravishingly, that the animals gathered round 
him, enchanted by his tones. In that beautiful season 
when earth resumes the green livery of spring, and the 
bow of heaven beams benediction on the human race, he 
peculiarly .delighted in music. One delightful evening, 
when a warm sweet air breathed around, when the moon 
was shining in meridian splendour, and Spirits in honour 
of it clothed themselves in rose-coloured robes, with chains 
of pearl and rubies, he wandered forth playing on his flute. 
The waters stood still to hear him, hungry calves let their 
mother's milk drop on the ground while they listened, and 
the birds lost all power over their wings. The Gopias 
all left their occupations to hurry after those fascinating 
sounds. He advised them to return home, and not risk 
their comfort in this world and happiness in the next, by 
neglect or ill conduct toward their husbands; since the 
Vol. I.— 6* 


Yedas, which are the very words of Brahma, declare that 
a husband, however defective or criminal, is in the place 
of the Supreme to his wife. They replied that when 
frenzy seized the mind, all duties and all worldly motives 
were forgotten ; that intoxicated as they were by the 
sound of his flute, it was in vain to preach to them duty 
to their husbands ; that when he ordered them to leave 
him, their feet would not move, but if he called them to- 
ward him, they flew. So ardent and concentrated was 
their affection, that their souls became illuminated, and 
they comprehended who Crishna was. They told him 
they well knew he was the Supreme Being, and that who- 
ever would be united to him must renounce all other con- 
nections, as they did ; that he might separate himself from 
them corporeally, if he would, but he could not escape 
from their hearts and minds, which would remain forever 
fixed on him. Perceiving them thus sincerely inflamed, 
and hurried away from themselves by the ardour of desire, 
he took each of them in his arms, and treated them all 
with equal tenderness. All the transport and happiness 
to be found in the world were in the hearts of the Gropias. 
They exclaimed : " happy trees of this wood, under 
whose thick shade Crishna delights to slumber. Honoured 
above all animals are these, which the Almighty himself 
leads to pasture. Happy above all is the flute, which rests 
forever on his divine lip, from which he produces those 
heavenly sounds that steal away the souls of Sooras and 
Assooras. How blest are we, whom he condescends to 
love!" When Crishna promised always to continue his 
kindness to them, they became elated with the happiness 
and elevation of the fourteen spheres of the universe. 
They all rose up, and taking hold of his hands began to 
dance. His form multiplied in proportion to the number 
of his partners, and he gave his hand to each. Every one 
believed he was close by her side, and all their eyes were 
directed toward him alone. If one became fatigued, she 
sat down, holding his hand and looking toward him, or 
stood with her arm round his neck, leaning on his shoulder 


in the most graceful and affectionate manner. Brahma, 
Siva, and subordinate Deities came as spectators, and of- 
fered all manner of flowers. Many of the blossoms fell to 
the ground, from the bosoms of the dancers, and bees, at- 
tracted by their fragrance, swarmed around them. The 
listener who once came within sound of that flute, or heard 
the musical tinkling of the dancers' feet, was unable to 
depart, nor could the birds stir a wing. After a thousand 
sports, they all went to bathe, and renewed their caresses 
in the river Jumna. The enjoyment of Crishna with the 
Gopias, and of the Gopias with Crishna, is a mystery, and 
cannot be described. 

Cansa heard the fame of this wonder-working youth, 
and tried various means to entice him to his palace, that 
he might employ him in some task sure to end in his de- 
struction. Crishna always eluded his snares, till he knew 
the predestined time had arrived for him to kill the tyrant. 
He then quitted his pastoral life, and returned to the place 
of his birth. After conquering in all manner of perils, 
contrived by the jealousy of the king and the malignity 
of wicked Spirits, he at last attacked Cansa, tore the crown 
from his head, and dragged him a long way on the ground 
by his hair. While thus dragged along, the soul of the 
tyrant became liberated of the three worlds ; for whether 
sleeping or waking, he had never, for one moment, been 
able to refrain from thinking of his predestined destroyer, 
and at the moment of death he had beatific visions of him; 
for whoever, constantly and sincerely, whether in love or en- 
mity, bent his heart toward the Deity, incarnated as he was 
in that human form, was sure to obtain liberation. 

When Crishna heard the lamentations of the king's 
wives and brothers, he pitied them, and advised them to 
strive for resignation to the unavoidable decrees of fate. 
Then he went to the place where his father and mother 
were imprisoned, fell at their feet, and said : "Be happy in 
the life of that son, for whose sake his earthly parents have 
suffered so much danger and distress." At that moment, 
they knew he was the Almighty, and worshipped him with 


prayers and praises. "When he perceived that they knew 
him to be the Universal Lord, while so much remained for 
him to fulfil as an avatar on this earth, he again plunged 
them into forgetfulness, so that they once more supposed 
him to be their son. As his youth had been passed among 
shepherds, they deemed it necessary to commence an educa- 
tion for him, suited to the caste of Cshatryas, or rajahs, to 
which he belonged. They accordingly procured a learned 
Bramin to teach him all the Yedas. To save appearances, 
he staid awhile with his tutor, though in reality he learned 
the whole circle of sciences in one day and one night. At 
parting with his teacher, he requested him to ask whatever 
boon he most desired. He replied: " Above all things, I 
desire to have my two dead sons restored to life." Crishna 
assured him it should be done. He descended to the 
abodes of departed souls, summoned the god of those 
regions, and demanded the two sons of his tutor. His 
commands were obeyed with profound submission. He 
restored the young men to life, and brought them to their 
father. He was constantly performing similar miracles of 
beneficence. He lulled tempests, cured lepers, and restored 
the old and crippled to youth and beauty. His mother 
having expressed a wish to see her infant sons, who had 
been murdered by command of their cruel uncle, he went 
to the regions of departed spirits, and brought them to her. 
As soon as she saw them, the milk began to flow in her 
breasts. When the babes had tasted of the milk, and 
Crishna had passed his hand over them, an eagle descended 
from above and bore them up to Paradise, in sight of all 
the people. 

The Coros were enemies of the Yadavas, and persecuted 
them greatly. Crishna conquered them in a great battle, 
and placed the rightful prince on the throne. But though 
he fulfilled his destined mission in fighting against oppres- 
sors, his prevailing characteristics were benevolence and 
tenderness. His kindness was freely extended to all. If 
he visited a pious rajah, who offered him chains of gold 
and strings of finest pearl, he was often at the same mo- 


ment in some humble shed with a devout Bramin, who 
was too poor to offer him anything bat fruit and flowers. 
He gave no preference to one over the other, knowing that 
their religious merits were equal, though their external 
conditions were so very different. 

It is said that Bhreegoo, a celebrated saint, wishing to 
test his divinity, kicked him, to see whether it would make 
him angry. Crishna stooped and examined his foot with 
the utmost tenderness. " This breast of mine is extremely 
hard," said he. "You surely must have hurt yourself.' , 
Bhreegoo, weeping with joy, exclaimed : " This must in- 
deed be the true Lord of the three worlds." 

To certain princes, who bowed low before him, he de- 
clared that he took more pleasure in repentant sinners, 
than he did in stainless devotees, who had passed their 
whole lives in austerity and prayer. 

In all the concerns of life, he strictly obeyed the injunc- 
tions of the Yedas. Morning, noon, and evening, he per- 
formed the prescribed ablutions and prayers. He washed 
the feet of Bramins with all humility, and distributed 
among them cows with gilded horns. He neglected none 
of the purifications appointed for actions proper to human 
nature, which are every day committed. If it be asked 
how that divine essence could have any need of purifica- 
tion, the answer is, that it was by reason of his material 
form. He took part in the public business of the Yadavas, 
and when -he sat in council with them, it would be degra- 
ding to that assembly to compare it to the moon and stars 
shining in midnight glory. After performing his public 
and private duties, musicians and singers were introduced, 
and every kind of innocent and elegant diversion beguiled 
the remaining hours of the day. 

He lived in the midst of beauty and magnificence. His 
carriage, studded with jewels, glittered like the sun ; and 
when he rode forth, women mounted on the roofs of the 
houses, to gaze after it as long as it was possible. The 
father-in-law of Cansa had solemnly sworn to revenge his 
death, and he accordingly attacked the city of Matra. 


Crishna, to save the inhabitants from all danger, called up 
an island from the ocean, and transported them all thither. 
By his command, Yisvakarma, the architect of his celestial 
Paradise, constructed a wonderful city called Dwarka. 
The walls were of gold, and the pavements glittered with 
precious stones. The houses were pure crystal, supported 
by pillars of coral, with canopies of golden cloth, festooned 
with strings of pearl. The apartments were illuminated 
with resplendent rubies, and over the roofs floated clouds 
of fragrant smoke, from the constant burning of aromatics. 
Numerous temples towered toward the sky, and incense 
from their altars perfumed the whole atmosphere. Learned 
Bramins were everywhere chanting the Vedas, like intox- 
icated bees buzzing round aromatic Nenuphar. Peacocks 
sported among the trees, and nightingales sung. In the 
garden was a river, whose banks were all gold and jewels. 
It appeared red, from the reflection of the rubies, but it 
was perfectly white. It was the "Water of Life. In the 
most splendid of the palaces lived his first wife Rakmini, 
who was an incarnation of his celestial consort Lacshmi. 
In this city dwelt Crishna, with his sixteen thousand 
wives, like lightning in a cloud. Beautiful children played 
in the courts, and graceful slave-girls attended on their 
mistresses. When Nareda, god of music, visited this Pa- 
radise, Crishna rose from his seat and stepped forward to 
welcome him. He caused water to be brought, and him- 
self washed the feet of his guest, pouring the remainder of 
the water on his own head. Nareda was oppressed by 
such marks of distinction, and replied reverently: " If it be 
thy august will to perform these services for me, it is as a 
father and mother perform services for their children, out 
of their own voluntary good will. No one can measure 
thy mercy and benevolence. Thy avatar is for the pur- 
pose of protecting the good and punishing the wicked. 
Men, who are buried in the pit of their passions, have no 
possibility of escape from their control, except by thy 
mercy in consenting to be born into this transient world." 
Having curiosity to know whether Crishna lived with his 


sixteen thousand wives in rotation, or was always present 
with each of them, he resolved to take the first opportunity 
of going into their various houses. In one, he found 
Crishna at a banquet; in another, listening to the Poura- 
nas ; in another, he had set the women to quarrelling, and 
amused himself with looking on ; in another, he was lis- 
tening to the songs of beautiful slave-girls; in another, 
giving orders for digging a well ; in another, distributing 
milch cows to the poor. Go as quickly -as he would, he 
found Crishna everywhere present. Each of his wives 
thought he preferred no one to herself, and that be wished 
for no other. [This is probably an allegorical allusion to 
the intimate union of Deity with multifarious forms of the 

After the Coros were conquered, the rightful prince of 
the Yadavas reigned thirty-six years in peace and pros- 
perity. Then came calamities and bad omens of every 
kind. A black circle surrounded the moon, and the 
sun was darkened at noonday; the sky rained fire and 
ashes; those animals which it was reckoned fortunate 
to meet on the right hand were met on the left ; names 
burned dusky and livid ; demons carried away the orna- 
ments of the women and the weapons of the men, and no 
one could impede them ; at sunrise and sunset, thousands 
of figures were seen skirmishing in the air ; Crishna's 
horses took fright, and ran away with his carriage into the 
pathless regions of the atmosphere, far beyond the ken of 
mortals; Spirits hovered in the air, wailing, and crying 
out, " Arise ye and flee !" Crishna knew that these pro- 
digies foreboded the extinction of the Yadavas, and his 
own exit from his material form. He remembered the 
prophecy concerning himself, " O Crishna, take care of the 
sole of thy foot." He seated himself in a jungle, full of 
melancholy thoughts, and summoned all his force, mental 
and corporeal, while his spirit stood ready to depart. A 
hunter, seeing him there, mistook him for an animal, and 
discharged an arrow, which pierced him in the foot. Im- 
mediately a great light enveloped the earth, and illuminec 


the whole expanse of heaven. Crishna, attended by Ce- 
lestial Spirits, and luminous as on that night when he was 
born in the house of Yasudeva, pursued, by his own light, 
the journey between earth and heaven, to the bright Para- 
dise whence he had descended. All men saw him, and 
exclaimed, " Lo, Crishna's soul ascends its native skies 1" 

One of the titles of Crishna is " Pardoner of Sins ;" 
another is "Liberator from the Serpent of Death." In 
allusion to this last title, and likewise to his death-wound 
in the foot, the image of Crishna is sculptured in their 
ancient temples, sometimes wreathed in the folds of a ser- 
pent, that is biting his foot, sometimes treading victoriously 
on the head of a serpent. 

Hindoo theology is everywhere intimately connected 
with astronomy. Each planet had its presiding Spirit, 
supposed to be interested in the affairs of men, and there- 
fore to be propitiated by prayers and offerings. In the 
following prayer, Crishna is addressed as the Spirit of the 
Sun : " Be auspicious to my lays, O Crishna, thou only 
god of the seven heavens, who swayest the universe 
through the immensity of space and matter. O universal 
and resplendent Sun ! Thou mighty governor of the 
heavens ; thou sovereign regulator of the connected 
whole ; thou sole and universal deity of mankind ; thou 
gracious and supreme Spirit ; my noblest and most happy 
inspiration is thy praise and glory. Thy power I will 
praise, for thou art my sovereign Lord, whose bright image 
continually forces itself on my attentive, eager imagination. 
Thou art the Being to whom heroes pray in perils of war ; 
nor are their supplications vain, when thus they pray ; 
whether it be when thou illuminest the eastern region 
with thy orient light, when in thy meridian splendour, or 
when thou majestically descendest in the west." 

All the Hindoo avatars are painted bluish-black, or dark 
azure. In allusion tp Crishna's being the Spirit of the 
Sun, his colour is called " the brilliant pupil of the eye of 
the universe." He is represented as more splendidly dressed 
than any of the avatars. He wears robes of golden yel- 


low, with a coronet on his head, containing a jewel of in- 
estimable value. He is adorned with garlands of flowers, 
and rich strings of pearls. He is the favourite deity of Hin- 
doo women, who are enamoured with the accounts of his 
beauty and tenderness of heart. Throughout India, he is 
worshipped with enthusiastic devotion. He is believed to 
have been Yishnu himself, perfectly and entirely incarnated 
in a human form ; whereas other avatars were only en- 
dowed with portions of his divinity. They ascribe to him 
all the wisdom and power of the Supreme Creator and 
Ruler of the Universe. 

In the Bhagavat Geeta, Crishna is represented as saying 
to his friend and disciple Arjun : "Both thou and I have 
passed through many births. Mine are known unto me, 
but thou knowest not of thine. Although I am not in my 
nature subject to birth or decay, and am the Lord of all 
created beings, yet having command over my own nature, 
I am made evident by my own power; and as often as 
there is a decline of virtue, and an insurrection of vice and 
injustice in the world, I make myself evident. Thus I 
appear from age to age, for the preservation of the just, 
the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of 

" I am the creation and the dissolution of the whole 
universe. There is nothing greater than I. All things 
hang on me, even as precious gems on a string. I am 
moisture in the water, light in the sun and moon, inspira- 
tion in the Yedas, sound in the atmosphere, fragrance in 
the earth, human nature in mankind, glory in the source 
of light. I am all things ; I am Life. I am the eternal 
seed of all nature. I am the understanding of the wise, 
the glory of the great, the strength of the strong. I am 
free from lust and anger ; and in animals I am desire, regu- 
lated by moral fitness." 

" He who adores with sincere faith any object whatso- 
ever, infallibly obtains from me the object of his belief. 
Firm in his faith, he seeks by his own means such or such 
a favour, and I grant the object of his desires. "Worshippers 
V9L. I— 7 D 


of the inferior Deities are with the inferior Deities ; wor- 
shippers of the souls of their ancestors are with the souls 
of their ancestors ; they who sacrifice to Spirits are with 
those Spirits. But these fruits, sought bj men but little 
endowed with science, are limited in their duration. Those 
who worship the inferior Deities with faith, worship me 
also ; but not in the true manner. I enjoy their sacrifices. 
I am the Lord to whom return all the works of religion. 
But they do not know me according to the truth ; there- 
fore they fall back into the world of mortals. The igno- 
rant believe me visible, whilst I am invisible. They do 
not know my superior, imperishable nature. I am ani- 
mated with equal benevolence toward all beings. I know 
neither hatred nor predilection. But those who adore me 
devoutly are in me, and I in them. Even he who has led 
a bad life, if he adores me without adoring any other thing, 
is to be reputed virtuous. It is entirely accomplished. He 
will immediately have a just soul, and obtain eternal tran- 
quillity. Have faith in me. ISTo one who worships me can 
perish. Forgetting all other duties, address thyself to me 
as the only asylum. I will deliver thee from all sin." 

The same book declares: " Crishna is at all times present 
everywhere ; just as fire, though concealed, is always pres- 
ent in wood. "Whoever is night and day thinking of him 
becomes exalted above all the three worlds. "Whoever, at 
the moment of expiring, shall retain him in remembrance, 
will infallibly be thrice blessed." 

Hindoo Sacred Writings abound with allusions to an 
age of innocence and bliss, long passed away, and prophesy 
an age of holiness and happiness, that will come at the end 
of all things. Strabo, the Greek geographer, records that 
a philosopher, named Onesicritus, was sent into India, by 
Alexander the Great, to learn the doctrines and mode of 
life of the hermit sages in that region. He found a Bra- 
min, named Calanus, who taught him that in the beginning 
of the world, milk, wine, honey and oil flowed spontane- 
ously from fountains, and peace and plenty reigned over 
all nature. But men having made bad use of this felicity. 


the Creator deprived them of it, and condemned them to 
labour for subsistence. 

In consequence of the disorders produced by Evil Spirits, 
leagued with men, Yishnu was obliged to appear on earth, 
at various epochs, in different forms; as a fish, a lion, a 
dwarf, and holy sages among men. His eighth incarnation 
in Crishna was the most perfect that has yet been; but 
more glorious still will be his tenth and last avatar. Their 
Sacred Books declare that in the last days, when the fixed 
stars have all apparently returned to the point whence they 
started, at the beginning of all things, in the month Scor- 
pio, Yishnu will appear among mortals, in the form of an 
armed warrior, riding a winged white horse. In one hand, 
he will carry a scimetar, " blazing like a comet," to destroy 
all the impure, who shall then dwell on the face of the 
earth. In the other hand, he will carry a large shining 
ring, to signify that the great circle of Yugs, or Ages, is 
completed, and that the end has come. At his approach, 
the sun and moon will be darkened, the earth will trem- 
ble, and the stars fall from the firmament. The great ser- 
pent Seshanaga will pour forth flames from his thousand 
mouths, which will set the universe on fire, consume the 
spheres, and all living creatures. The white horse is repre- 
sented as standing with one foot raised. When he stamps 
it upon the earth, it is predicted that the dissolution of na- 
ture will take place. Some Oriental scholars consider this 
as an astronomical allegory ; a white horse being the uni- 
versal symbol of the sun among ancient nations. 

A Sacred Book, called the Barta Shastra, contains the 
following prophecy : "At the end of the Cali Yug, a Bra- 
min will be born, who will understand the Divine Writ- 
ings, and all the sciences, without spending any more time 
to learn them than is sufficient to pronounce a single word. 
They will give him a name signifying He who excellently 
understands all things. By conversing with those of his 
own race, he will purge the earth of sinners ; a thing im- 
possible to any other than himself. He will cause justice 
and truth to reign everywhere, and will subject the uni- 


verse to the Bramins. When he becomes old, he will re- 
tire into the desert and suffer penance. He will confirm 
the Bramins in virtue and truth, and keep the four castes 
within the bounds prescribed by Sacred Laws. Then will 
the First Age return again. All the virtues will march in 
the train of truth ; and the Light of the Divine Writings 
will be diffused everywhere. The earth will be inebriated 
with prosperity and gladness, and all people enjoy ineffable 

So strongly is this hope of a blissful future impressed on 
the minds of the people, that they commemorate the 
prophecy by a festival, during which they sacrifice a sheep, 
and repeat, with a loud voice: "When will the Helper 
come ? When will the Deliverer appear ?" 

The more spiritual portion of the Yedas represent ab- 
sorption in God as the great end and aim of all human 
exertions ; and this absorption is to be attained by pure life, 
devout contemplation, and a complete withdrawal of the 
senses from all outward things. It attaches little value to 
works in themselves, and none at all, unless performed 
with purity of intention, and a heart devoted to God. 

But the less spiritual portion of the Yedas prescribe 
many works and ceremonies, and promises appropriate 
rewards in Paradise for each ; though it represents as un- 
wise those who prefer such rewards to the eternal beatitude 
gained by pious sages. It is said :— " For a spirit self- 
interested as thine, there is no other means of salvation 
than the observance of rites. Continue to practise them 
as long as you feel a desire to enjoy the rewards they can 
procure. It is the way to obtain the recompense you ex- 
pect for your works." 

These two aspects of the Vedas produced theological 
schools of opposite tendency. The word karma, in the sig- 
nification of which they include words and thoughts as well 
as works of the body, has given rise to endless disputations. 
A sect founded by Djaimini is called Purva; sometimes 
Karma Mimansa, or Investigators of the doctrine of 
Works, because they occupy themselves much with prov- 


ing, both from reason and the Yedas, the efficacy of the 
works and ceremonies of religion. Their teachers define 
with great exactness how these works ought to be per- 
formed, and what degree of reward must follow each, by 
inevitable necessity. They present religion like a sum in 
arithmetic ; so many merits subtracted from so many faults, 
and so much of punishment still remains due. This sect 
not only allows the killing of animals for food, but pre- 
scribes it, provided a portion be first offered to the gods. 
They elevate the worship of the symbolical deities to great 
importance, and thus express the popular tendency to Po- 
lytheism, or the worship of many distinct gods, rather than 
Pantheism, or the worship of all things in One God, Some 
of this sect consider works of expiation as efficacious only 
in cases of involuntary sins ; others think the testimony 
of the Yedas prove them to be effectual in case of those 
that are voluntary. 

An extreme reaction from this tendency to overvalue 
works, and overload religion with ceremonies, exists in the 
mystical sect called Yedantins, said to be founded by 
Yyasa, collector of the Yedas. In common with all Hin- 
doos, they prescribe penances as aids to holiness, such as 
painful postures, holding the breath while repeating Om, 
&c. But they discountenance those terrible bodily inflic- 
tions, to which the popular mind of Hindostan is so 
exceedingly prone, and dwell more on the force of will, 
by which a holy man subdues his passions and directs 
his thoughts. They represent the worship of the symboli- 
cal deities as useful for those who cannot rise above it ; but 
speak almost disdainfully of those who consider pleasure 
and power, and the joys of Paradise, a desirable recom- 
pense for their multitude of works. Their favourite theme 
is the surpassing excellence and supreme beatitude of that 
state of absorption, in which the soul of man floats serenely 
above all desire for reward, all reliance upon works, all 
necessity of instruction from the Yedas. 

This spiritual reaction was inevitably produced by the 
popular tendency to bury religious feeling under a mass of 
Vol. I.— 7* 


mechanical ceremonies ; and everywhere there is a class of 
minds ready to carry principles to an extreme result. The 
Yedantins declared works insufficient for salvation ; and 
straightway other teachers arose, who pronounced works not 
only insufficient, but pernicious ; real obstacles in the way 
of holiness, and therefore to be utterly neglected and des- 
pised by all true saints. Endless were the debates on this 
questioD of faith and works. Traces of them are every- 
where conspicuous in their sacred literature. "It is ne- 
cessary to act," says the author of the Bhagavat Geeta, 
"because otherwise the body could not be nourished. It 
is necessary to act, because God, in creating the world, has 
arranged it in such a manner that beings reciprocally sub- 
sist by their works and actions. But he who acts without 
regard to reward, without any other motive than duty, 
without any end in view but God, he is the perfect man." 
"■ The saint, who has purified his soul, who has subdued 
his senses, whose soul is The Soul of All Beings, is not 
sullied by the practice of works. He never imagines it is 
himself who acts. In seeing, hearing, touching, breathing, 
eating, walking, sleeping, talking, in opening his eyes, or 
in shutting them, he says to himself, 'These are the senses, 
not myself, which are occupied with external things.' He 
attributes his works to God, and can thus act without stain, 
as the leaf of the lotus is not stained by the water-drops 
that fall upon it. In renouncing the fruit of works, he 
obtains tranquillity." 

The sects above mentioned are considered orthodox, be- 
cause they all acknowledge themselves bound by the Ye- 
das, and each strives to sustain its position by texts thence 
derived. But many causes were at work to give birth to 
heretical opinions. In the first place, the Holy Books 
themselves declared that man might arrive at a state of 
holiness, in which perpetual inward revelations rendered 
the Yedas unnecessary; and the Yedantins had spread 
abroad the idea by reiterated assertions. In the next place, 
rational investigations and philosophical theories are al- 
ways going on, more or less openly, by the side of theo- 


logical speculations. But stronger than both these causes 
was an increasing jealousy and aversion to the hereditary 
priesthood. In the beginning, it is probable that any very 
holy hermit could become a priest : and when the office 
was first made hereditary, every Bramin was professedly 
a religious man, and felt bound to devote the latter part of 
his life to contemplation in the forest. But as the caste 
grew numerous and wealthy, many of them were not 
priests, and very few devoted their declining years to as- 
cetic practices. Thus there were many Bramins who were 
not saints, and many renowned saints who were not al- 
lowed to become Bramins. The possession of almost un- 
limited authority had its usual effect to produce selfishness, 
arrogance, and oppression ; and though there were always 
good and great men among the Bramins, many disgraced 
their high calling by utter abandonment to vice. Still, 
however degraded their characters, holy and learned men 
of the other high castes were bound to submit to their au- 
thority, and treat them with the utmost reverence. The 
populace, immersed in ignorance, and spell-bound by 
sacred traditions, considered disobedience to a Bramin as 
the sum total of sin, and thought no method so sure to 
open the Gates of Paradise for themselves as to bestow 
property on members of that consecrated caste. In such a 
state of things, any doctrine that undermined their exclu- 
sive privileges would of course find adherents. 

A school of rationalists appeared in Hindostan, many 
centuries ago, called Sankhya ; a word signifying In- 
telligence, Beason. They deny the authority of the Yedas ; 
urging that the command to sacrifice animals cannot be 
of divine origin, because it is contrary to the laws of be- 
nevolence. They reject the doctrine of God everywhere 
present in Nature ; and maintain that Nature, though an 
emanation from God, is an entirely distinct and inde- 
pendent principle, not created, but containing within herself 
the laws that regulate all her motions. This theory of 
two principles, God and Nature, is called by philosophers 


The j hold the common opinion that true holiness and 
happiness are to be obtained only by withdrawing the 
senses entirely from external things ; but they assert this 
can be accomplished by reason, self-control, and con- 
templation, without aid from the Yedas. They do not 
deny the existence of subordinate deities, but represent 
them as beings very inferior to human saints, who have 
freed themselves from nature by contemplation and virtue. 
These rationalists separate into two sects ; one diverging 
from orthodox opinions more widely than the other. The 
ultra school do not believe in One Supreme Soul, but in a 
multitude of souls, each enjoying independent existence. 
They say there is no other revelation than the wisdom of 
good men, which consists of souvenirs laid up by them in 
various progressive anterior existences. They believe the 
soul can raise itself above passion and imagination, by 
reason, experience, and the instruction of such sages. The 
more orthodox school place small value on this ac- 
cumulated knowledge of wise men, as a means of becoming 
at one with Grod. They believe in a Supreme Soul, and 
think the human soul, by contemplation and self-re- 
nunciation, can attain such a state of mystical union there- 
with, that direct revelations are constantly received from 
the Divine Source. All souls tend to this state, and all 
souls can become Grod. 

These views open the religious life to all castes, and 
strike directly at the priesthood ; for if the Yedas are 
rejected, there is no more need of Bramins to explain 
them, or to perform the ceremonies they prescribe ; every 
man can become his own priest. 

It is obvious that from various sources the Hindoo mind 
early became familiar with the idea that holy men could 
arrive at a state of elevation transcending the gods. This 
led to the theory of divine incarnations in the human form ; 
the next step was to worship saints as gods. This is done 
by the Djinists, or Jains. The word Djina is merely one 
of the numerous words applied to saints, to express their 
various degrees of holiness ; but in process of time it was 


appropriated to this sect only. They hold most of the 
orthodox opinions concerning God and the soul, but reject 
the Vedas, because they prescribe bloody sacrifices. They 
believe Grod and Nature to be one indivisible existence. 
By a law eternally inherent in this existence, it passes 
from activity to repose, alternately, like day and night. 
Active, it produces creation, without however being de- 
pendent on creation, in any way. The material world, 
which emanated thus, is subject to successive changes, 
though its essence never perishes. It is alternately de- 
stroyed and renovated ; never by any exercise of divine 
will, but by an inherent necessity. The duration of a 
world is divided into six periods. We are in the fifth, 
which began six hundred and forty-three years before 
Christ. In each of these periods appear twenty -four saints, 
to reform and purify mortals. These saints are Spirits de- 
scended upon the earth. One named- Vrisch aba, whom 
they peculiarly revere, has many sacred titles ; such as 
"Lord of All the Saints," "Supreme over Grods and 
Spirits." According to their traditions, he was a prince, 
who abdicated in favour of his son, retired into the forest, 
and became entirely absorbed in the Divine Being. They 
attribute to him four Sacred Books of their sect, called 
Yoga. They likewise regard with especial reverence the 
anchorite Sramana, who is said to have been absorbed in 
the Divine Essence, about six hundred years before the 
Christian era. 

They opened the religious life to all castes, except Soo- 
dras ; and the saints of their own sect were their priests. 
In old times, their hermits bound themselves by very rig- 
orous vows, and oftentimes showed their indifference to 
the world by going naked. The statues of these saints in 
their temples are always without clothing. It is asserted 
that some of them never died, but gradually dissolved 
away into phantoms, and thus imperceptibly mixed with 
the Universal Soul. In later times, the religious among 
them are less strict. They merely promise to be poor, 
honest, chaste, truthful, and benevolent toward all crea- 


tures. For this last trait the Jains are very remarkable. 
They offer no sacrifices except fruit, flowers, and incense. 
A prince of this sect allowed himself to be defeated, rather 
than march his army in the rainy season, when the fires of 
the camp would destroy insects then swarming. Another 
prince forbade printers, potters, and pressers of oil, to ex- 
ercise their trades during four months of that season, when 
they must inevitably crush many insects. 

For a long time they were much persecuted by the or- 
thodox sects. In a contest between them and the adhe- 
rents of the Bramins, some of the Jain priests and their 
most zealous disciples were ordered to be ground to death 
in oil-mills. Yet the same people who exercised this cru- 
elty reverenced life in a bee, a bird, or a monkey 7 as a por- 
tion of the Central Soul ! In 1367 the Jains obtained peace 
by a formal reconciliation with the Yishnuites, whose creed 
resembles theirs in many particulars. They employ the 
Bramins in their religious ceremonies, and are mostly quiet, 
industrious citizens. 

They are divided into sects among themselves, and some- 
times carry their opposition so far as to fight with each 
other when they meet in religious processions. Bishop 
Heber asked a Jain merchant what was the difference be- 
tween his views and those of another sect. He coloured 
up to the eyes,. and answered with bitterness: " As much 
as between Hindoos and Christians ; as much as between 
Christians and Mahometans." But a Jain priest, who was 
present, said more calmly : " We worship the same God ; 
but they are ignorant how to worship him." 

The Buddhists are by far the most important sect that 
have appeared in India. They have points of similarity 
with the Jains, and some writers have confounded the two 
together. But the Jains have always persecuted the Budd- 
hists with great bitterness. They had too much tenderness 
to press oil, for fear of crushing insects in the process, but 
they slaughtered fellow-beings without mercy, under the 
influence of theological hatred. The Buddhists worship 
Spiritual Intelligences descended on earth in the form of 


saints ; and the greatest of these is Bouddha Sakia Mouni, 
from whom they derive their name. The words Bouddha 
and Mouni both mean a Saint, or a holy Sage ; thus his 
name is Sakia, and his titles are, the sage and the saint, 
the wise and the holy. European scholars suppose him to 
have been a great saint and reformer, who tried to restore 
the spiritual doctrines of the Yedas, and abolish distinctions 
of caste, including the priesthood. The popular belief is 
that he was an incarnation of a portion of Yishnu, and 
that he had previously appeared on earth, at various epochs, 
for the instruction and salvation of mankind. Mercury is 
reckoned among the beneficent planets in India, and the 
name given to it is Boodh, or Bouddha. The day conse- 
crated to that luminary, corresponding to our Wednesday, 
is the holy day among worshippers of Bouddha. Some 
Hindoo writers say he was the planet Mercury, born of the 
Moon and the bright star Aldebaran. Perhaps this means 
that the presiding Spirit of Mercury was a ray from Yish- 
nu, and that he occasionally descended to our earth, and 
took a human form. The date of his last birth, in the 
character of Bouddha Sakia, varies among different nations 
that have adopted his religion. In Cashmere they say he 
appeared only two hundred years later than Crishna, whose 
advent they place more than five thousand years back. 
According to Mongol records, he was born two thousand 
one hundred and thirty-four years before the Christian 
era ; but the Chinese say it was one thousand twenty-nine 
years. In Ceylon, the era from which they date is the in- 
troduction of Buddhism into that island, six hundred and 
thirty-eight years before Christ ; and this they mistake for 
the date of Sakia's birth. The learned generally give their 
verdict in favour of the Chinese date; from which the 
opinion of Sir William Jones varies only twenty-nine 
years. That the sect prevailed extensively in India, at a 
very remote period, is abundantly proved by numerous 
gigantic temples bearing marks of great antiquity. His 
statues, found in such edifices, give the same indication ; 
for they represent him as a man buried in profound medi- 


tation, with hair knotted all over his head, after the man* 
ner of hermits in very ancient times, before the custom of 
shaving the head was introduced. From this peculiarity, 
some travellers have mistaken him for an African. Cole- 
brooke, the learned Sanscrit scholar, conjectures that the 
Buddhists were in existence before the great sects of Siva 
or Crishna. That they were sufficiently conspicuous to 
excite hostility before the Ramayana was written, is proved 
by the following extract from that ancient poem : " As an 
atheist fallen from the path of rectitude, as a thief, so is a 

His mother Maia is said to have been a virgin, who con- 
ceived him from a ray of light. As Maia was one of the 
names for the Goddess of Illusions, this might have merely 
signified that he only appeared to be living in this world ; 
that his mortal existence was an illusion to the senses. 
Tradition affirms that his mother was married to a rajah ; 
and of course her son belonged to the same royal caste that 
Crishna did during his existence on earth. The advent of 
Bouddha is thus recorded : " It was at the close of the 
Dwapar Yug, that he who is omnipresent and everlastingly 
to be contemplated, the Supreme Being, the Eternal One, 
the Divinity worthy to be adored, appeared in this ocean 
of natural beings, with a portion of his divine nature." It 
is said that a marvellous light shone at his birth, and the 
Ganges rose and fell in a remarkable manner. The mo- 
ment he was born, he stood upright, walked forward seven 
steps, pointed one hand upward and the other downward, 
and distinctly said, "No one in heaven, or on earth, de- 
serves higher adoration than I." On a silver plate, found 
in a cave near Islamabad, was written a curious inscrip- 
tion concerning him. It states that a saint in the woods 
learned by inspiration that the ninth incarnation of Vish- 
nu had just appeared in the house of the rajah of Cailas, 
He flew through the air to the place indicated, and said, 
" I came hither to see the new-born child." The instant 
he looked at him he declared that he was an avatar, and 
destined to introduce a new religion into the world. 


To fulfil the requisitions of the law, Sakia was married 
at sixteen years of age. His parents bestowed upon him 
a maiden named Ila, whose father was one of the seven 
saints saved from the universal Deluge, in the miraculous 
ship sent by Vishnu. As soon as a son was born to him, 
he renounced his princely rank, and went to live as an an- 
chorite in a wild forest, flourishing with noble trees and 
fragrant flowers, but infested with lions and tigers. Many 
stories are told of the austerities he practised there. His 
spiritual teacher having one day remarked that religious 
instructions took no root unless accompanied by mortifica- 
tions and sufferings, he covered his body with thousands 
of matches, which he lighted; at another time, he drove 
thousands of sharp nails into his flesh ; at another, he went 
into a fiery hot furnace. Having one day encountered a 
tiger and her young perishing with hunger, he offered him- 
self to them for food ; but the beast being too weak to eat 
him, he pierced his veins, that she might strengthen her- 
self with his blood, and afterward allowed himself to be 
devoured by her. Once, his soul entered a fox, which was 
so extremely beautiful, that the king threatened his hunt- 
ers with death if they did not bring him the skin of that 
remarkable creature. He therefore allowed himself to be 
caught, on condition that they would skin him alive, to 
save themselves from the crime of murder. They did so, 
and this gave him an opportunity to gratify his benevo- 
lence by "feeding swarms of hungry insects, who imme- 
diately fastened on his raw flesh. It is recorded of him that 
he spent six years in continual silent contemplation, resist- 
ing manifold temptations sent to try him. During this 
time, five Holy Scriptures descended to him, he was en- 
dowed with the gift of prophecy, and could alter the course 
of nature whenever he chose. 

His worshippers believe that the severe austerities he 
practised had a higher and more benevolent object than 
the attainment of perfect holiness and complete absorption 
for himself. He was a Heavenly Spirit, dwelling in re- 
gions of light and beauty, who, of his own free grace and 

Vol. L— 8 


mercy, left Paradise, and came down to earth, because he 
was rilled with compassion for the sins and miseries of 
mankind. He sought to lead them into better paths, and 
he took sufferings upon himself, that he might expiate 
their crimes, and mitigate the punishment they must inevi- 
tably undergo. Hindoos of all sects believe that every 
cause has a certain effect, which must follow it by inherent 
necessity ; thus every sin must have its exact amount of 
suffering ; what is endured in this world will be deducted 
from punishment in the next ; and what one voluntarily 
endures for another will be placed to the account of him 
he wishes to benefit. For these reasons, Bouddha inflicted 
terrible penances upon himself. So great was his tender- 
ness, that he even descended into the hells, to teach souls 
in bondage there, and was willing to suffer himself, to 
abridge their period of torment. 

The renown of Bouddha's wisdom and holiness attracted 
many disciples, to whom he imparted his doctrines and 
precepts in the silent depths of the forest. There is a tra- 
dition that he taught, as a secret doctrine, to his most con- 
fidential disciples, that all things came from nothing, and 
would finally return to nothing. A charge of atheism has 
been founded on this. But some suppose the story was 
fabricated by his enemies the Bramins, while in reality 
he merely taught their own doctrine that after an immense 
interval of revolving ages, all things in the universe, even 
Brahma himself, would be absorbed in the original Source 
of Being ; which Buddhists name The Yoid. 

Before his departure from this world, he intrusted his 
disciple Mahakaya, a Bramin of Central India, with all 
his precepts and doctrines. At the age of seventy-nine 
years, Bouddha Sakia's whole nature attained to such 
complete absorption in the Divine Being, that he ascended 
to celestial regions without dying. They show marks on 
the rocks of a high mountain, believed to have been the 
last impression of his footsteps on this earth. By prayers 
in his name, his followers expect to receive the rewards 


of Paradise, and finally to become one with him, as he be- 
came one with the Source of Life. 

It is said his disciples composed five thousand volumes 
in honour of him. The titles bestowed upon him are in- 
numerable; such as "Son of Maia," "The Benevolent 
One," "Lord of the Earth," "Dispenser of Grace," 
"Saviour of all Creatures," and "Lion of the Eace of 

There is a tradition that a celebrated sage named Amara, 
prime minister to the king, and called " one of the nine 
jewels" of his court, recognized Bouddha to be an incarna- 
tion of Vishnu, and sought to propitiate him by supe- 
rior service. He lived in the forest twelve years upon 
roots and wild fruit, and slept on the bare ground. He 
committed no sin, and devoted his whole soul to pious 
contemplation. One night, he heard a voice saying: 
" Ask whatever thou wilt." He replied : " Let me see thee 
in a vision." The voice answered: "How can there be 
visions in the Cali Yug ? But the same benefit may be 
derived from seeing and worshipping the image of a god, 
that might be derived from seeing and worshipping the 
god himself." A vision of the image was revealed to him. 
He caused' a likeness of it to be made, and worshipped it 
with perfume and incense, accompanied by the following 
prayer: "Reverence be unto thee, Lord of the earth! 
Reverence -be unto thee, thou incarnation of the Eternal 
One, in the form of Bouddha ! Reverence be unto thee, 
God of Mercy, who overcometh the sins of the Cali Yug ! 
Reverence be unto thee, possessor of all things, ruler of 
the faculties, bestower of salvation ! Thou art he who 
resteth upon the face of the Milky Sea, who reposeth on 
the serpent Seshanaga. Thou, who art celebrated by a 
thousand names, and under various forms, I adore thee in 
the shape of Bouddha ! Be propitious, Most High God 1" 

An inscription to that effect was found carved on the 
rocks in a wild and solitary part of Behar, not far from 
the Ganges. Its date corresponded to nine hundred and 
forty-nine years after our era. 


The doctrines taught by Bouddha and his disciples bear 
a general resemblance to the Braminical religion, from 
which they sprung, but depart from them in several par- 
ticulars calculated to have an important influence. M. 
Bochinger, a learned and discriminating French writer, 
says : — " Like all men who have given a new direction to 
the religious ideas of their cotemporaries, Sakia did not 
invent a system altogether new. He merely pronounced, 
strongly and clearly, that which many of his cotemporaries 
had obscurely felt. He made himself the representative 
of opposition to Braminism, which had for some time ex- 
isted among them." 

The Buddhists believe in One Absolute Existence, in- 
cluding both God and "Nature. When they speak of Pro- 
vidence, they mean an intelligence inherent in Nature, by 
which her movements are regulated. Philosophers call 
this doctrine Naturalism. To avoid attaching any idea of 
form, or limit, to the original Source of Being, the Budd- 
hists called him by a name signifying The Yoid, or Space. 
On this subtile question, they are, however, divided into 
several schools. Some call this Absolute Existence The 
Supreme Will, The Supreme Intelligence. They supposed 
him to have alternate states of activity and repose. When 
active, he produced creation ; not from any will to do so, 
but from inherent laws of development. Thus emanate 
successive worlds, all changeable, illusory, and unreal, and 
destined finally to return to The Yoid again. Spiritual 
existences are evolved in descending gradations down to 
man. Human beings may become so plunged in error 
and ignorance as finally to lose all power of perceiving 
what is good and true. From this low condition they 
could never be raised without the aid of Superior Intelli- 
gences. The Supreme cannot descend to their relief, for 
he is incapable of motion or change. But his first emana- 
tions, a high order of spiritual existences, charge them- 
selves with this mission of salvation. They descend to 
the inferior worlds, even down into the lowest hells, to 
give wretched creatures an example of virtue, explain the 


cause of their misery, and teach them how to attain su- 
preme happiness. Such have been all the great saints 
they adore ; but such in a pre-eminent degree was Bouddha 

They believe the world has been successively destroyed 
by wind, water, and fire ; that its essence, which never 
dies, has been renewed in form, and will be again de- 
stroyed, to be renewed again. The degree of perfection 
of a world, be it more or less, depends on the moral char- 
acter of those who inhabit it. In proportion as the beings 
of an inferior world are all saved and raised to superior 
worlds, that world disappears. Thus, after infinite ages, 
all return to the Supreme Essence, to reappear in new 
successive emanations. All this ascending and descending 
movement has its source in laws of inherent necessity. 
Hence religious Buddhists compassionate sinners, as beings 
impelled to crime by their unfortunate destiny. 

It has been remarked that Hindoos considered them- 
selves a pure and privileged race, set apart from other na- 
tions, and polluted by contact with them. But Bouddha 
Sakia and his disciples, having risen above the Vedas, re- 
jected the limitation of castes in religious life. The road 
to saintship in this world was freely opened, through a 
course of devout contemplation, to all nations and all 
classes ; to foreigners or natives, Bramins or Soodras, 
young or old, men or women. Bramins naturally regarded 
this as a wicked and very dangerous innovation ; for it 
was contrary to the Sacred Books, and, if it prevailed ex- 
tensively, must strike a powerful blow at the privileges of 
their consecrated order. When and how Buddhists came 
to have a separate priesthood of their own cannot be traced. 
The animosity of Bramins would naturally drive them to 
the expedient of having religious ceremonies performed by 
their own holiest men. These men were not holy by 
birth, like the Bramins, but had attained to sanctity by 
strict celibacy and other ascetic practices. By this process, 
it seems likely that celibacy of the clergy came to be es- 
tablished, as a mark of distinction between them and other 
Vol. I.— 8* 


sects. This peculiarity would of course increase the abhor* 
rence of Bramins, who regarded offspring as one of the 
greatest blessings, both temporal and spiritual. The Sa- 
cred Books strictly enjoined it on children, as a religious 
obligation, to offer stated prayers and sacrifices, to assist 
the souls of ancestors through stages of probation after 
death. Other castes might procure this advantage by pay- 
ing for it ; but Bramins alone were authorized to perform 
religious ceremonies. In a worldly point of view, the es- 
tablishment of celibacy would also be a great misfortune ; 
for their vast possessions and inviolable privileges would 
all be scattered, if they had no families to inherit them. 
No wonder the Bramins peculiarly detested a sect which 
thus struck at the root of hereditary priesthood. The 
more people manifested interest in their tidings of spiritual 
emancipation, the more were its messengers slandered and 
persecuted. The Pouranas charge them with denying 
the authority of Yedas and Shastras ; condemning animal 
sacrifices ; declaring it useless to worship the gods ; not 
believing in transmigration, but teaching that the five ele- 
ments of the body dissolved at death, never to reunite ; 
that this life alone was worth caring for ; that pleasure 
ought to be the chief aim ; that worship, abstinence and 
charity were useless. 

But bitter words and unjust charges were the smallest 
evils they had to endure. They were hunted like wild 
beasts. At one time, orders were issued to put to death 
all Buddhists and their families, even old men and infants, 
from the Himalaya mountains, on the northern frontier, to 
the bridge of Rama, at the southern extremity, near Cey- 
lon. They lingered longest in Southern India, where the 
Bramins were not so supremely powerful as elsewhere. 
But Mahometans assisted in the relentless warfare, and in 
the ninth century Buddhists were expelled from every part 
of Hindostan. Zeal, stimulated by persecution, had im- 
pelled great numbers of them to wander abroad, centuries 
before, scattering seeds of doctrine as they went. This 
final expulsion sent forth a still greater swarm of mission- 


aries to other nations. How extensively they propagated 
their religion in Eastern Asia will be seen in the chapter 
concerning Thibet and China. 

The most remarkable modern sect among Hindoos is 
that of the Sikhs, or Seiks ; founded by Nanac Shah, born 
in the year one thousand four hundred and sixty-nine of 
our era, and belonging to the noble caste of Cshatryas. 
When very young, he met with some devotees, who 
strongly impressed his mind with the idea that the wor- 
ship of One Invisible God was alone worthy of wise men. 
Seized with an earnest desire for knowledge, he travelled 
through Hindostan, Persia, and Arabia, and visited Mecca 
and Medina. He became acquainted with the Mahometan 
mystics called Sufis, and was particularly attracted by the 
writings of one of them, named Cabik, who earnestly en- 
joined universal philanthropy and religious toleration. 
Imbued with these rational and benevolent ideas, Nanac 
Shah resolved to devote his life to the project of uniting 
Hindoos and Mahometans, on the common ground of a 
simple faith and purity of morals. He treated both reli- 
gions with great respect, but in his own teachings dwelt 
solely on the worship of One God, and love to all mankind. 
He used to say : " Hundreds of thousands of Mahomets, 
millions of Brahmas and Yishnus, and hundreds of thou- 
sands of Ramas, stand before the throne of the Almighty, 
and they all die. God alone is immortal. He only is a 
good Hindoo who is just, and he only is a good Mahom- 
etan whose life is pure." The Fakirs, and the people, being 
accustomed to impute supernatural power to saints, called 
upon him for miracles. But he answered : "I can show 
none worthy of attention. A teacher of sacred truths! 
needs no defence but the purity of his doctrines. The' 
world may alter, but the Creator is unchangeable." He 
was a pure deist; that is, a believer in natural religion, 
who reverently found in God the cause of all things, and 
considered as unimportant the authority of written revela- 
tion, about which he everywhere saw men contending so 
violently. He died about 1540, and was buried at Kirti- 


pur, where a relic of his dress is preserved in one of their 
temples, and exhibited to pilgrims. 

His benevolent design of bringing Hindoos and Mahom- 
etans together on a common ground of toleration and 
benevolence was utterly defeated. One of his successors 
published the writings of Nanac, the first sacred book of 
the sect, under the title of A'di Grant'h. It attracted the 
attention and excited the jealousy of the Mahometan gov- 
ernment, and they put to death the collector of these 
writings. His son roused the sect to vengeance, and 
changed the benevolent believers into fierce warriors, who 
thenceforth received the name of Seiks, or lions. Long 
and bloody wars ensued, and the Seiks at last retreated to 
the Punjab, where a Hindoo chief received them kindly. 
There they established a sort of independent state, in 
which they entirely abolished castes, and placed Soodras 
and Bramins on the same level. They always go armed, 
and to distinguish themselves forever from Mahometans 
and Hindoos, they wear a blue dress, and let their hair 
grow. The Mahometan government, determined to extir- 
pate them, offered a price for their heads, and every one 
who could be taken was immediately put to death. It 
is said not one of them could be persuaded to abjure 
his religion to save his life. They now govern quite a 
large district in the north-west of Hindostan. 

Among the numerous minor sects is one called Sauder, 
which means Worshippers of Grod. They are quiet, orderly 
citizens, mostly merchants and husbandmen. They adore 
but One Divine Being, to whom they offer only hymns. 
They abstain from wine, tobacco, and dancing, offer no 
violence to man or beast, and are enjoined to practise in- 
dustry, secret almsgiving, and prayer. 

In Hindostan, as elsewhere, there have always been 
classes of minds who doubted or disbelieved the popular 
forms of faith. Some learned Bramins of the present day 
smile at terrible descriptions of the hells, in their Sacred 
Books, as bugbears fit only for the ignorant. Even so far 
back as Crishna's time, he had occasion to declare : " There 


are those who know not what it is to proceed in virtue, or 
recede from vice. They say the world is without begin- 
ning, without end, without a Creator." 

The universal power of the religious sentiment is mani- 
fested in the immense labour and expense bestowed on 
places of worship in all ages and nations. Stupendous 
works of this kind remain as vestiges of ancient Hindo- 
stan. The sight of them fills the beholder with astonish- 
ment, especially when he reflects that they were produced 
by the persevering toil of an indolent people, whose favour- 
ite maxim is, " It is better to sit still than to walk, better 
to sleep than be awake, and death is best of all." The 
most remarkable are subterranean temples cut through the 
heart of mountains, inch by inch, in the solid rock. 

On the island of Salsette, likewise called Kennery, near 
Bombay, are celebrated excavations of this description, 
capable of containing thousands of inhabitants. The 
largest temple is ninety feet long and thirty-eight wide, 
with a spacious portico, and a lofty, fluted, concave roof, 
which gives it a majestic appearance. Two rows of col- 
umns, thirty-four in number, form an area in the centre; 
the capitals of many of them are elephants' heads, others 
formed of lotus leaves and blossoms. On each side of the 
portico stands a colossal statue, and various groups of 
smaller figures face the entrance. This was consecrated 
to Bouddha, and contains manifold representations of him. 
His principal image, sitting cross-legged, with hair knotted 
all over his head, is surrounded with small sculptured fig- 
ures in relief, probably intended to illustrate his history. 
There are two other temples nearly as large, numerous 
chapels, and apartments apparently intended for hermits; 
also benches, open courts, and tanks for rain-water, all 
hewn out of very hard stone, and ornamented with sculp- 
tures. There are some inscriptions on the walls, but the 
characters bear no resemblance to any of the various al- 
phabets now used in India. It is a language lost to the 
memory of man, and has not yet been deciphered. In an- 
other grotto temple between Bombay and Poonah, Boud- 


dha is represented in the same attitude, with knotted hair, 
and surrounded by crowds of worshippers. Bramins as- 
cribe its construction to Evil Spirits, called Rakshasas, and 
forbid any religious ceremony to be performed in it. 

The island of Elephanta, not far from Salsette, takes its 
name from a huge stone elephant, in ruinous condition. 
The excavations here are truly wonderful, though the de- 
sign and execution is more rude than the architecture at 
Salsette. The principal temple is itself one hundred and 
thirty feet in length, and the same in breadth ; not includ- 
ing numerous apartments and chapels connected with it. 
The whole is hewn solely out of rock, and forms a com- 
plete grotto. Being lower than the great subterranean 
temple at Salsette, it has a more cavernous appearance. 
Twenty-six pillars and sixteen pilasters support the mass 
of rock which serves for a roof. At the entrance is a 
statue of the Hindoo Trinity. Brahma, serenely majestic, 
is in the centre j on one side is Vishnu, with a mild coun- 
tenance ; on the other is Siva, with a severe aspect, holding 
the serpent Cobra do Capello in one hand, pomegranates 
and lotus-blossoms in the other. This colossal image, 
thirteen feet high, almost fills the space from floor to roof. 
Ganesa, god of Wisdom, is near Brahma, with a style in 
his hand, ready for writing. Several gigantic figures are 
in attendance. Serpents are everywhere twisting about, 
enfolding the statues. The figures on the walls are in such 
bold relief, that they merely adhere to the rock by their 
backs. Among the numerous symbols, the Triangle is 
conspicuous. Hindoos attached mystic signification to its 
three sides, and generally placed it in their temples. It 
was often composed of lotus plants, with an Eye in the 
centre. Every thing indicates that this temple was dedi- 
cated to the worship of Siva. The Symbol of Generation is 
placed in one recess, and another is occupied by a huge 
image of his Sacred Bull. His own likeness occurs in 
every variety. In one place, he is represented half man 
and half woman ; in another, he appears as the Destroyer, 
with a serpent, a sword, and a necklace of skulls. On the 


richly-sculptured walls, lie is represented as receiving his 
bride Parvati, from Cama, Grod of Love, and conducting her 
to his Paradise of Kailasa. They are accompanied by a 
numerous train of gods and goddesses. A great variety 
of small aerial beings hover round them in graceful atti- 
tudes, but generally with a heavy, sleepy look. The num- 
ber of statues and sculptures in relief is immense. Ad- 
joining the temple are two baths, with walls beautifully 
carved, the roof and cornice painted in mosaic patterns, 
the colours of which are still brilliant. Bramins confess 
that it is impossible to assign any date to these wonderful 
structures. All tradition of their origin is lost in the 
misty past. Every thing proves their antiquity to be ex- 
ceedingly great. The rock is of clay-porphyry, one of 
the very hardest species of stone. It is supposed that it 
could not have been cut without the aid of a peculiar kind 
of steel, called Wudz, for which India was celebrated, even 
in ancient times. Yet this material, apparently indestruc- 
tible, is yielding under the slow pressure of ages. Many 
of the sculptures are so dissolved by action of the atmos- 
phere, that it is difficult to trace their forms. What a long 
lapse of time it must have taken to corrode such a flinty 
material ! 

"At Carli," says Bishop Heber, "is another remarkable 
cave hewn in a precipice. The apartments were evidently 
intended for hermits, and some of them are ornamented 
with great beauty. The entrance to the temple is under a 
noble arch. Within the portico are alto-relievo figures of 
colossal elephants; heads, tusks, and trunks very boldly 
projecting from the wall. On each side of them is a Ma- 
hout, or driver, very well carved, and a houdah with two 
persons seated in it. The screens on each side the door are 
covered with alto-relievos of men and women, whom the 
Hindoos explain to be religious enthusiasts, attendants on 
the deity. The columns inside are carved with singular 
beauty. Each of the capitals consists of a large cap, like 
a bell, finely carved, and surmounted by two elephants, 
with their trunks intertwined, each carrying a man and 


pur, where a relic of his dress is preserved in one of their 
temples, and exhibited to pilgrims. 

His benevolent design of bringing Hindoos and Mahom- 
etans together on a common gronnd of toleration and 
benevolence was utterly defeated. One of his successors 
published the writings of Kanac, the first sacred book of 
the sect, under the title of A'di Grant'h. It attracted the 
attention and excited the jealousy of the Mahometan gov- 
ernment, and they put to death the collector of these 
writings. His son roused the sect to vengeance, and 
changed the benevolent believers into fierce warriors, who 
thenceforth received the name of Seiks, or lions. Long 
and bloody wars ensued, and the Seiks at last retreated to 
the Punjab, where a Hindoo chief received them kindly. 
There they established a sort of independent state, in 
which they entirely abolished castes, and placed Soodras 
and Bramins on the same level. They always go armed, 
and to distinguish themselves forever from Mahometans 
and Hindoos, they wear a blue dress, and let their hair 
grow. The Mahometan government, determined to extir- 
pate them, offered a price for their heads, and every one 
who could be taken was immediately put to death. It 
is said not one of them could be persuaded to abjure 
his religion to save his life. They now govern quite a 
large district in the north-west of Hindostan. 

Among the numerous minor sects is one called Sauder, 
which means Worshippers of Grod. They are quiet, orderly 
citizens, mostly merchants and husbandmen. They adore 
but One Divine Being, to whom they offer only hymns. 
They abstain from wine, tobacco, and dancing, offer no 
violence to man or beast, and are enjoined to practise in- 
dustry, secret almsgiving, and prayer. 

In Hindostan, as elsewhere, there have always been 
classes of minds who doubted or disbelieved the popular 
forms of faith. Some learned Bramins of the present day 
smile at terrible descriptions of the hells, in their Sacred 
Books, as bugbears fit only for the ignorant. Even so far 
back as Crishna's time, he had occasion to declare : " There 


are those who know not what it is to proceed in virtue, or 
recede from vice. They say the world is without begin- 
ning, without end, without a Creator." 

The universal power of the religious sentiment is mani- 
fested in the immense labour and expense bestowed on 
places of worship in all ages and nations. Stupendous 
works of this kind remain as vestiges of ancient Hindo- 
stan. The sight of them fills the beholder with astonish- 
ment, especially when he reflects that they were produced 
by the persevering toil of an indolent people, whose favour- 
ite maxim is, " It is better to sit still than to walk, better 
to sleep than be awake, and death is best of all." The 
most remarkable are subterranean temples cut through the 
heart of mountains, inch by inch, in the solid rock. 

On the island of Salsette, likewise called Kennery, near 
Bombay, are celebrated excavations of this description, 
capable of containing thousands of inhabitants. The 
largest temple is ninety feet long and thirty-eight wide, 
with a spacious portico, and a lofty, fluted, concave roof, 
which gives it a majestic appearance. Two rows of col- 
umns, thirty-four in number, form an area in the centre; 
the capitals of many of them are elephants' heads, others 
formed of lotus leaves and blossoms. On each side of the 
portico stands a colossal statue, and various groups of 
smaller figures face the entrance. This was consecrated 
to Bouddha, and contains manifold representations of him. 
His principal image, sitting cross-legged, with hair knotted 
all over his head, is surrounded with small sculptured fig- 
ures in relief, probably intended to illustrate his history. 
There are two other temples nearly as large, numerous 
chapels, and apartments apparently intended for hermits ; 
also benches, open courts, and tanks for rain-water, all 
hewn out of very hard stone, and ornamented with sculp- 
tures. There are some inscriptions on the walls, but the 
characters bear no resemblance to any of the various al- 
phabets now used in India. It is a language lost to the 
memory of man, and has not yet been deciphered. In an- 
other grotto temple between Bombay and Poonah, Boud- 


dha is represented in the same attitude, with knotted hair, 
and surrounded by crowds of worshippers. Bramins as- 
cribe its construction to Evil Spirits, called Eakshasas, and 
forbid any religious ceremony to be performed in it. 

The island of Elephanta, not far from Salsette, takes its 
name from a huge stone elephant, in ruinous condition. 
The excavations here are truly wonderful, though the de- 
sign and execution is more rude than the architecture at 
Salsette. The principal temple is itself one hundred and 
thirty feet in length, and the same in breadth ; not includ- 
ing numerous apartments and chapels connected with it. 
The whole is hewn solely out of rock, and forms a com- 
plete grotto. Being lower than the great subterranean 
temple at Salsette, it has a more cavernous appearance. 
Twenty-six pillars and sixteen pilasters support the mass 
of rock which serves for a roof. At the entrance is a 
statue of the Hindoo Trinity. Brahma, serenely majestic, 
is in the centre ; on one side is Yishnu, with a mild coun- 
tenance ; on the other is Siva, with a severe aspect, holding 
the serpent Cobra do Capello in one hand, pomegranates 
and lotus-blossoms in the other. This colossal image, 
thirteen feet high, almost fills the space from floor to roof. 
Granesa, god of Wisdom, is near Brahma, with a style in 
his hand, ready for writing. Several gigantic figures are 
in attendance. Serpents are everywhere twisting about, 
enfolding the statues. The figures on the walls are in such 
bold relief, that they merely adhere to the rock by their 
backs. Among the numerous symbols, the Triangle is 
conspicuous. Hindoos attached mystic signification to its 
three sides, and generally placed it in their temples. It 
was often composed of lotus plants, with an Eye in the 
centre. Every thing indicates that this temple was dedi- 
cated to the worship of Siva. The Symbol of Generation is 
placed in one recess, and another is occupied by a huge 
image of his Sacred Bull. His own likeness occurs in 
every variety. In one place, he is represented half man 
and half woman ; in another, he appears as the Destroyer, 
with a serpent, a sword, and a necklace of skulls. On the 


richly-sculptured walls, lie is represented as receiving his 
bride Parvati, from Cama, Grod of Love, and conducting her 
to his Paradise of Kailasa. They are accompanied by a 
numerous train of gods and goddesses. A great variety 
of small aerial beings hover round them in graceful atti- 
tudes, but generally with a heavy, sleepy look. The num- 
ber of statues and sculptures in relief is immense. Ad- 
joining the temple are two baths, with walls beautifully 
carved, the roof and cornice painted in mosaic patterns, 
the colours of which are still brilliant. Bramins confess 
that it is impossible to assign any date to these wonderful 
structures. All tradition of their origin is lost in the 
misty past. Every thing proves their antiquity to be ex- 
ceedingly great. The rock is of clay-porphyry, one of 
the very hardest species of stone. It is supposed that it 
could not have been cut without the aid of a peculiar kind 
of steel, called Wudz, for which India was celebrated, even 
in ancient times. Yet this material, apparently indestruc- 
tible, is yielding under the slow pressure of ages. Many 
of the sculptures are so dissolved by action of the atmos- 
phere, that it is difficult to trace their forms. What a long 
lapse of time it must have taken to corrode such a flinty 
material ! 

"At Carli," says Bishop Heber, "is another remarkable 
cave hewn in a precipice. The apartments were evidently 
intended for hermits, and some of them are ornamented 
with great beauty. The entrance to the temple is under a 
noble arch. Within the portico are alto-relievo figures of 
colossal elephants; heads, tusks, and trunks very boldly 
projecting from the wall. On each side of them is a Ma- 
hout, or driver, very well carved, and a houdah with two 
persons seated in it. The screens on each side the door are 
covered with alto-relievos of men and women, whom the 
Hindoos explain to be religious enthusiasts, attendants on 
the deity. The columns inside are carved with singular 
beauty. Each of the capitals consists of a large cap, like 
a bell, finely carved, and surmounted by two elephants, 
with their trunks intertwined, each carrying a man and 


woman on their backs. These are likewise explained to 
be saints." The image of Bouddha, surrounded by worship- 
pers, occurs in many places in this grotto, consequently 
Bramins say it was made by Evil Spirits. There are nu- 
merous inscriptions in unknown characters. 

But the most marvellous of all grotto temples are those 
at Ellora, almost in the exact centre of India, near Deogur, 
which signifies The Holy Mountain. These excavations 
are hewn within a chain of mountains, embracing a circuit 
of six miles, arranged in horse-shoe form, and principally 
composed of very hard red granite. Here are a series of 
temples cut in rock, some of them two and even three 
tories high. The largest takes its name from Siva's Para- 
use, called Kailasa. It is a hundred feet high, and a hun- 
dred and forty-two feet long. On each side of the colon- 
nades at the entrance are huge Sphinxes. A row of enor- 
mous elephants seem to sustain the superincumbent rock, 
and produce an imposing effect. There are many large 
temples, sometimes joining each other, sometimes separated 
by intervals, occupied with smaller temples. The extent 
and number of these extraordinary subterranean works can 
hardly be imagined. There are entire pyramidal temples, 
standing in open courts, peristyles, staircases, bridges, 
tanks, chapels, porticoes, obelisks, columns, and a great 
number of colossal statues, from ten to twelve feet high. 
On the right and left of the temples are chambers cut out 
of the rock, apparently for the convenience of priests be- 
longing to the sanctuary. In some places, a large enclo- 
sure is surrounded by rows of columns, which sustain three 
galleries, one above another. Am immense number of 
small grottoes seem to have been intended for the reception 
of thousands of pilgrims. On some of the walls are in- 
scriptions in Sanscrit. Porticoes, columns and walls are 
everywhere covered with sculptures, many of them painted 
in bright colours, which still retain their brilliancy. Trav- 
ellers declare that "the variety, richness and skill displayed 
in these ornaments surpass all description." Mr. Erskine 
says : " The first view of this desolate religious city is grand 


and striking, but melancholy. The number and magnifi- 
cence of the subterranean temples, the extent and lofti- 
ness of some, the endless diversity of sculpture in others, 
the variety of curious foliage, of minute tracery, highly 
wrought pillars, rich mythological designs, sacred shrines, 
and colossal statues, astonish and distract the mind. The 
empire, whose pride they must have been, has passed away, 
and left not a memorial behind it." The images of deities, 
either entire statues, or carved in bold relief, are counted 
by thousands. In fact this collection of temples seems in- 
tended to embrace the worship of them all. One is conse- 
crated to Siva and Parvati, whose marriage festival is rep- 
resented on the walls. Another is dedicated to Yishnu 
and his beautiful consort. Another contains a colossal 
statue of Indra seated on a recumbent elephant, and his 
wife Indrani on a recumbent lion. Eama and his wife 
Sita occupy another, whose walls are sculptured with his 
battles, described in the Eamayana. One of the temples 
is dedicated to Yisvacarma, the celestial architect, said to 
have built Yishnu's palace in Paradise. The age of these 
stupendous structures is as difficult to be determined as 
those at Elephanta and Salsette, but the superior work- 
manship is supposed to indicate that they are less ancient. 
At whatever epoch they were commenced, it must have 
taken centuries to complete them. As the Bramins have 
no record of their origin, they say they were built before 
the Cali Yug, by Yisvacarma himself, assisted by Yishnu. 
Beside these subterranean excavations, there are won- 
derful structures, hewn in solid rock, above the surface of 
the earth. Such are the Seven Pagodas, very ancient 
monuments on the Coromandel coast, about thirty -five 
miles south of Madras. On the summit of a hill is a vast 
collection of temples and other buildings, columns, porti- 
coes, and massive walls, almost entirely cut from the solid 
rock of the hill. As one approaches the coast, it has the 
appearance of a royal town. A large proportion of the 
buildings are covered by the sea, and may be seen far out 
under the water. It is conjectured that they were en- 

VOL. I.— 9 K 


gulfed by an earthquake, or some other terrible convulsion 
of nature. But it happened so long ago, that all recollec- 
tion of the catastrophe is completely lost. The defacement 
and complete obliteration of some of the ornaments, by 
the operation of the atmosphere, likewise indicates great 
antiquity. The style and workmanship of some of the 
temples is said to be very grand and striking. There are 
many colossal images of deities, and of elephants, lions, and 
other animals connected with their history. Human figures 
like dwarfs are often placed in striking contrast with these 
huge creatures. The Symbol of Generation in some of the 
temples indicates that Siva was worshipped there. But 
the buildings are principally consecrated to Yishnu, espe- 
cially to his incarnation in the form of Crishna. There is 
a colossal image of Yishnu sleeping on his thousand-headed 
snake covered with stars. In one place Crishna is repre- 
sented enfolded by the Serpent of Death ; in another, tread- 
ing the Serpent under his feet, in allusion to his victory 
over death. He is also represented with the Nine Gopias 
dancing round him. In fact, whole scenes from the Ma- 
habharata are sculptured on the walls. There are inscrip- 
tions over several of the statues, but they have not yet 
been deciphered. Tradition attributes these edifices and 
Cyclopean walls to kings of the race of Pandos, relatives 
of Crishna, and conspicuous in his history. 

At Tanjore, in the south of India, is a very celebrated 
old temple, formed of massive hewn stones, piled one 
above another, without exterior decoration. It is in the 
form of a pyramid, two hundred feet high. The interior 
contains a large hall, lighted by lamps, where the Bramins 
assemble to perform certain religious ceremonies. The 
worship of Siva is indicated by the Symbol of Generation, 
and a colossal image of his Bull, called Xundi. It is 
formed of an entire block of brown porphyry, sixteen feet 
long, and twelve feet high. This animal was an object of 
religious worship, and his annual festival was observed 
with much pomp, during which the people went to his 
temple in procession, with flutes, cymbals, and garlands. 


There is no determinate account when this structure was 
erected ; and that circumstance, together with its primitive 
style of architecture, indicates high antiquity. 

At Chalambron, in the district of Tanjore, are a collec- 
tion of sacred buildings, within a double enclosure. On 
each side is a magnificent gateway, formed of large blocks 
of stone, with pilasters thirty -two feet high, surmounted by 
a pyramid one hundred and fifty feet high, ornamented 
from top to bottom with sculptures. There are three 
chapels within a separate enclosure. One contains no 
religious symbol to indicate the deity to whom it was con- 
secrated. One is dedicated to Vishnu, the other to Siva. 
A large tank occupies the centre of the area, with a colon- 
nade and steps of stone, by which pilgrims descend into 
the holy water. On the right side is the largest temple, 
dedicated to Parvati, whose statue stands immediately 
facing the entrance. The portico is supported on six rows 
of columns, covered from top to bottom with carved 
figures. The sanctuary is lighted by numerous lamps, and 
before it stands an image of the Sacred Bull. The pilasters 
which form the entrance are connected by a chain, curi- 
ously carved from one piece of stone. On the other side 
of the tank is a chapel standing in the middle of an enor- 
mous hall, three hundred and sixty feet long, and two 
hundred and sixty broad. The flat roof is formed of im- 
mense blocks of stone laid horizontally, supported by up- 
wards of one thousand pillars. Every part of this hall is 
ornamented with sculptures, representing scenes from the 
Mahabharata, and other Sacred Writings. These various 
halls and chapels were intended for the reception of statues, 
conve}^ed on huge cars, during some of the annual festivals. 
Three thousand Bramins were employed in the services of 
this sanctuary. The enormous expenses were defrayed by 
the vast concourse of pilgrims that flocked thither. One 
of the Pouranas record that these edifices were erected six 
hundred and seventeen years before our era ; but portions 
are believed to be of later date. One of the large gate- 


ways was rebuilt not many years ago, by a pious widow, 
at the cost of about seventy-five thousand dollars. 

On the river Bunas is a magnificent temple to Crishna, 
called Nathdwara, or The Portal of God. It contains a 
statue of Crishna, said to have been in existence many 
ages, if not from the time when he was himself on earth. 
No terrible austerities are practised here, no animals sacri- 
ficed ; but from all points of the compass are poured in 
offerings to this most popular incarnation of compassionate 
Vishnu. Some give large landed estates, others bestow 
rich coronets and costly jewels to adorn his image. Spices 
are sent from the Indian Isles, frankincense from Tartary, 
dried grapes from Persia, rich shawls from Cashmere, silks 
from Bengal, grain and fruit from the husbandmen, flowers 
from women and children. The presiding Bramin ap- 
points consuls in all the great commercial cities to collect 
and transmit the donations of millions of votaries. 

One of the oldest and most venerated temples is that of 
Jaga Nath, commonly called Juggernaut ; one of the titles 
of Yishnu, signifying Lord of the World. It is at Orissa, 
on the northern extremity of the Coromandel coast. 
Europeans generally call it the Black Pagoda, because its 
dark colour, relieved by the sandy shore, makes it a con- 
spicuous object to mariners a great distance off. It is a 
huge grotesque pyramid of granite blocks, three hundred 
and fifty feet high, crowned with copper balls and orna- 
ments, flashing in the sunshine. It is covered with sculp- 
tures, among which is a large Sphinx, and many sexual 
emblems. An enormous Bull carved in granite projects 
from the front, which is toward the east. There is a tra- 
dition that when it was built it was ordained that distinc- 
tions of caste should be laid aside in the worship conducted 
there, and consequently that superiors and inferiors might 
eat together without pollution. This place is the scene of 
one of the most shocking festivals observed in modern 
times, as will be seen in succeeding pages. 

On an island between the continent and Ceylon are 
three pagodas within one enclosure, with a gate forty feet 


high. One temple is dedicated to Siva, another to Kama, 
another to Sita. The grand entrance to the largest is a 
truncated pyramid formed of rough blocks of stone. The 
exterior of these buildings is painted red, and adorned 
with a surprising amount of sculpture. Lord Yalentia 
says : " They present a magnificent appearance, which we 
might in vain seek adequate language to describe." They 
are regarded as among the most ancient sanctuaries of the 
nation, and no foreigner is allowed to enter within the 
hallowed precincts. 

In the vicinity of Kotah is the beautiful temple of 
Barolli, made of close-grained quartz-rock. Like many 
other of the old edifices, it is covered with a kind of 
stucco that hardens with time, and has the appearance 
of fine marble cement. It is in excellent preservation, 
though it bears marks of great age. The temple is not 
large, being only fifty-eight feet high, but it is remarkable 
for the profusion of sculpture with which every stone is 
covered, and for the ease and gracefulness of the figures. 
The gateway is adorned by two uncommonly fine statues 
of Siva and Parvati. Colonel Tod, who first visited the 
place, says there are some heads on the walls that would 
be no disgrace to the chisel of Canova. He says: "It 
would require the labour of several artists, for six months, 
to do anything like justice to the wonders of Barolli." 

The Jains have many handsome temples. Bishop Heber 
thus describes one of them : — " The priest led us into a 
succession of six small rooms, with an altar at the end of 
each, over which was a large basso-relievo in marble. 
The last apartment contained twenty-five figures, all of 
men sitting cross-legged, one considerably larger than the 
rest, and represented ^s a negro.* The priest said he was 
their God, and the other figures were the different bodies 

* This appearance was probably occasioned by hair twisted and knotted 
all over the head, accoixling to the ancient fashion of hermits. The larger 
size of one of these figures indicated his superior wisdom ; it being com- 
mon among them to represent greatness of character by bigness. 
Vol. I.— 9* 


he had assumed at different epochs, when he had become 
incarnated to instruct mankind. The progress made in 
the mysteries he taught entitle a man to worship in one or 
more of the successive apartments shown to us. In the 
centre of each room was a large tray with rice, and ghee 
strongly perfumed, apparently as an offering; and in two 
of them were men seated on their heels on the floor, with 
hands folded as in prayer, or religious meditation." The 
Hindoo attitude of worship is with the folded hands raised 
to the forehead, or the face laid prostrate on the ground. 

The following is a description of the private family 
chapel of a wealthy Hindoo : — " Though small, it was as 
rich as carving, painting and gilding could make it. The 
principal shrine was that of Siva, whose Emblem rose 
amid the darkness of the inner sanctuary, crowned with 
scarlet flowers, with lamps burning before it. Under the 
centre cupola was the Sacred Bull richly painted and 
gilded, in an attitude of adoration, likewise crowned with 
scarlet flowers. On the walls were paintings of gods and 
goddesses. Over all hung a large silver bell, suspended 
from the roof, like a chandelier." 

"Hermitages in the rocks abound in every part of Hin- 
dostan. The situation is always picturesque, in the midst 
of water, and under the shade of trees. Many of them are 
on cliffs above the rivers, with bamboos hanging gracefully 
over the entrance. Inside is a low stone couch and a 
bracket for a lamp or idol. Some of them are elaborately 

A volume might be filled with descriptions of the nume- 
rous temples in Hindostan, but enough has been said to 
convey an idea of their grandeur, and of the religious zeal 
of the people. The most ancient are in the form of a py- 
ramid. The great porch, or entrance, is a truncated pyra- 
mid, running out at the top into the shape of a half moon. 
The four sides face the cardinal points, and the front is 
toward the east. This form is prescribed by their Sacred 
Laws. The gigantic proportions, low massive pillars, and 
the deep shadows made by projections, produce a solemn 


effect, while a feeling of yastness and infinity is impressed 
on the mind by the almost endless repetition of small 
figures, delicately carved. The sun, moon, bulls, rams, 
goats, serpents, and other representations of planets and 
constellations, abound everywhere, showing that astronomy 
was very intimately connected with their religious ideas. 
The interior of these old pyramidal temples is very awful ; 
for light being excluded, the colossal statues of gods, often 
of frightful aspect, the huge serpents and enormous ani- 
mals carved in stone, are fitfully revealed, in the midst of 
black shadows, by the wavering light of lamps or torches. 
Many of the grand old edifices, which stand above ground, 
seem destined to perish. The wild fig-tree sows its seed 
in the crevices, and being a sacred plant, it is deemed sin- 
ful either to root it out or cut off its branches. In the 
course of a few years its rapid growth makes the temples 
look extremely picturesque, but it eventually destroys 
them. Sometimes large slabs of stone, covered with sculp- 
tured images and emblems, become incorporated with the 
substance of the tree, and are completely encased in wood. 

Upper India has been so ravaged by conquerors that 
few vestiges of its religious monuments remain. Many 
circumstances tend to prove that part of the country the 
cradle of Hindoo civilization ; therefore, notwithstanding 
the vast antiquity of some of the structures still remaining, 
it is conjectured that they are not so ancient as were some 
that have-disappeared. 

In Hindostan, the temples are called Dewals. The term 
Pagoda, generally used by Europeans, is said to be a cor- 
ruption of one of their words, signifying a Holy House. 
In all periods of their history the devotion of the people 
has led to the construction of new ones, and so it is at the 
present time. A Hindoo village is generally a mere col- 
lection of bamboo huts surrounding a Pagoda. Modern 
temples have lost the ancient character of grandeur. The 
ornaments are generally tawdry and the sculptures shock- 
ing specimens of deformity. Few of these buildings have 
more than three or four rooms, and some have only one, 


large enough for the images, and a few attendants* On 
the occasion of great ceremonies, the crowd of people stand 
in an open area in front of the gates. 

The Banian, or Indian Fig-tree, droops its branches, 
which take root as soon as they touch the ground. As 
they grow to amazing size, and apparently never decay, 
magnificent groves are formed, with agreeable vistas and 
cool recesses. The large green foliage is lively with squir- 
rels and monkeys, and brilliant with parrots, peacocks, and 
scarlet figs. Sometimes, 

" This pillared shade, 
High overarched, with echoing walks between," 

is spacious enough to shelter a thousand people. The 
Hindoos consider its far-stretching arms, its beneficent 
shadows, and its long life, emblematic of Deity, and they 
pay it almost divine honours. They plant it near their 
temples, and in villages where there are no temples, these 
groves are consecrated as places of worship. Here are 
placed blocks of black or white marble, or common upright 
stones, on which they pour oil for sacrifice ; altars sur- 
mounted by vases containing consecrated plants ; images 
of the sacred cow ; and the emblem of Siva. To these 
groves worshippers bring their oblations of flowers, grain, 
fruit, incense, and spices. Here repose the high priests 
and their retinue, travelling with Oriental pageantry to 
take part in some grand religious festival ; and here rests 
for a while the naked devotee, on his way to fulfil some 
vow ; perhaps walking thousands of miles in silence, with 
only a parroquet for his companion. 

It is common to build temples in close vicinity to these 
Banian forests ; especially if there be a lake or river near 
by. To provide such places for the people is deemed an 
act of great piety, likely to ensure a long enjoyment of 
Paradise. A wealthy man, who was living at Alia Bhaug 
in 1834, presented to the public extensive groves and gar- 
dens, filled with fountains, flowers, fruit-trees, and aro- 
matic shrubs, including a lake covered with a profusion 


of lotus-blossoms. In the midst of all this beauty, he 
erected a temple, declaring that he did it "as an accept- 
able sacrifice to the benevolent deity, and a useful charity 
to his fellow creatures." As usual in their sacred build- 
ings, the outer portion is for public worship, while the 
inner sanctuary is entered only by Bramins, who wash and 
dress the images, and adorn them with jewels and flowers, 
among which the lotus is always conspicuous. In front 
is a large tank of hewn stone for ablutions, with an obelisk 
at each corner, illuminated at festivals. The surrounding 
groves are lively with troops of musicians and dancing 
girls, devoted to the service of the temple. 

The Hindoos have several holy cities, among which 
Benares is most esteemed. They call it " the Lotus of the 
world," founded not on common earth but on the point of 
Siva's trident. They consider the soil so blessed that 
whoever dies there, of whatever sect, is sure of salvation. 
Even if he has eaten beef, which they regard as the great- 
est of sins, he will be saved, provided he is charitable to 
poor Bramins and dies at Benares. Hindoo princes keep 
agents there to offer sacrifices for them. The very aged 
are carried thither and left near the Granges, esteeming 
themselves most fortunate, if they can be carried away by 
the sacred stream, or devoured by its crocodiles. Wealthy 
men in the decline of life often go there to reside, to wash 
away their sins in the holy river, and secure rewards in a 
future existence by their benevolence to pious pilgrims. 
Bishop Heber speaks of a a man of vast fortune, who on 
his name-day (by which they mean the day on which his 
patron god is worshipped) always gave a large measure of 
rice and a rupee to every Bramin, and to every blind or 
lame person, who applied to him between sunrise and sun- 
set. This person was reputed to be really kind and 
good ; munificent from principle, not from ostentation." 
It may readily be imagined that under these circumstances 
Benares is a great place of resort for^ious beggars. The 
number of temples is exceedingly great. " They are most- 
ly small, and stuck like shrines in the angles of the streets, 


and under the shadow of the lofty houses. Their forms, 
however, are not ungraceful, and many of them are en- 
tirely covered over with beautiful and elaborate carvings 
of flowers, animals, and palm branches, equalling in mi- 
nuteness and richness the best specimens of Gothic or Gre- 
cian architecture. Bulls sacred to Siva, tame and familiar 
as mastiffs, walk lazily up and down, or lie across the nar- 
row streets. Any blows given to rouse them must be of 
the gentlest kind, or the whole population would rise in 
wrath against the offender. Sacred monkeys, and the di- 
vine ape who conquered Ceylon for Kama, are numerous, 
clinging to all the roofs and projections of the temples, 
putting their hands into every fruiterer's or confectioner's 
shop, and snatching food from the children at their meals." 
There was at Benares a famous pillar called Siva's Staff, 
a beautiful shaft of one stone, covered with exquisite carv- 
ing. It originally stood inside a Hindoo temple; but 
when Mahometans conquered the country, they pulled 
down the temple and built a mosque over it. But pilgrims 
were still allowed to visit the ancient pillar, on condition 
of giving half their offerings to the Mahometans. Upon 
the occasion of some great religious festival, a quarrel arose 
in the street between two processions, one Mahometan and 
the other Hindoo. The Mahometans in their fury broke 
down Siva's Staff, and the Hindoos revenged themselves 
by burning a mosque. Not far off was a consecrated well, 
the waters of which were deemed peculiarly holy, and all 
Hindoo pilgrims were enjoined to drink of it and use it for 
ablution. The Mahometans, exasperated by the burning 
of their mosque, killed a cow, the most sacred of all 
animals, and threw her blood into this well. The Hindoos 
retaliated by throwing bacon into all the mosques ; well 
knowing that pork was held in utter abomination by Ma- 
hometans, and deemed to pollute whatever it touches. A 
general fight ensued, which was finally quelled by the in- 
terference of British droops. Bishop Heber says: "After 
the tumult subsided, there was great mourning among the 
Hindoos. The holy city of Benares was profaned. The 


blood of a cow had been mixed with the sacred water, and 
salvation could be obtained at Benares no longer. All the 
Bramins in the city, many thousands, went through the 
streets in melancholy procession, naked and fasting, with 
ashes on their heads; and for two or three days they 
refused to enter a house, or taste of food. The gaunt, 
squalid figures of the devotees, their unaffected anguish 
and dismay, and the screams of the women who sur- 
rounded them, formed a very impressive scene. The 
British magistrates tried their utmost to reason with and 
console them. At last, they concluded that Ganges was 
Ganges still, and that a succession of costly offerings in the 
temples might possibly wash out the stain the holy city 
had received. Over the prostrate pillar they mourned 
much. Tradition declared it had been twice as high, and 
had been gradually sinking into the ground ; and there 
was a prophecy that when it became level to the earth, the 
religion of Brahma would come to an end, and all men be 
of one caste. Sorrowfully the Bramins gazed upon it, and 
said, ' Alas, Siva's Staff has its head level with the ground. 
We shall all be of one caste shortly. What will be our 
religion then ?' " 

The Coast of Orissa is perhaps the most important of the 
holy places of Hindostan. It is said that one million two 
hundred thousand pilgrims flock thither annually, to the 
great festival of Juggernaut. Immense numbers die of the 
hardships of long travel ; of famine, from scarcity of pro- 
visions to feed such a multitude ; by imprisonment, for 
non-payment of tribute to the Bramins ; and by suicide, to 
expiate sins, or secure future rewards in Paradise. Miles 
of this country are covered with human bones, whitening 
in the sun. Juggernaut is represented by a gigantic 
wooden image, with black face, blood-red distended mouth, 
golden arms and diamond eyes. It is renewed every three 
years. The bones of Crishna are deposited within it ; and 
when the Bramin takes them out, to transfer them to the 
new image, he shuts his eyes lest a sight of the holy relics 
should strike him dead. The image of Boloram, brother 


of Juggernaut, is painted white, and his sister Shubudra 
yellow. A hundred lamps are continually burning before 
them, and fifty-six Bramins attend upon them. They 
present to them offerings of various kinds of food, bathe 
them six times a day with water, oil, and milk, and dress 
them each time in fresh At the great annual fes- 
tival, these three images are gorgeously decorated, seated 
on thrones of nearly equal height, and placed in a huge 
car, sixty feet high, adorned with costly ornaments, and 
sculptured all over with sexual emblems. On each side 
are sixteen enormous wheels, which cut deep into the 
ground, as it slowly rolls along. It is preceded by ele- 
phants, dressed in crimson, bearing flags, and decorated 
with bells, that sound musically as they move. Mul- 
titudes of Bramins wave palm branches, recite extracts 
from their Sacred Books, and sing hymns in honour of Jug- 
gernaut. Troops of Devedasses dance around the car, 
while swarms of devotees, many of them naked, perform 
innumerable ceremonies, and make gestures, which to an 
unbelieving spectator seem very indecent. The crowd 
thrust each other violently for the privilege of seizing the 
ropes by which the chariot is drawn. Many throw them- 
selves across the street, deeming themselves sure of sal- 
vation if they can be crushed to death by the wheels ; and 
whenever this occurs, the multitude shout aloud in ap- 
probation. At this festival all distinctions are laid aside 
for the time ; Bramin and Pariah can eat together without 

On pilgrimages to these holy places, processions of dif- 
ferent sects often fight by the way, to determine whose 
temples shall be enriched by the taxes levied on pilgrims. 
At one of their great religious festivals in 1760, a battle 
occurred between the Sivaites and the Vishnuites, in which 
the latter had eighteen thousand men killed. 

Thousands of people are employed in carrying water to 
the temple of Juggernaut from an aperture in the rocks, 
called the Cow's Mouth, whence the Ganges issues. They 
travel more than two thousand miles, with two flasks of 


water slung across their shoulders on a piece of elastic 
bamboo. The labour thus expended would long since have 
converted the whole country into a highly cultivated garden. 
It is often done as penance for the lighter sorts of sins. 
"Women of rank, not venturing to appear in public, pay 
others to carry it for them. Princes and wealthy persons 
have this holy water conveyed to them in all parts of Hin- 
dostan. It is used at feasts, as well as upon religious festivals. 
A gentleman in Ceylon drank this water daily, brought three 
thousand miles, at the expense of five thousand rupees per 
month. As the Ganges is supposed to descend from Para- 
dise, its waters increase in holiness the nearer they approach 
its source. At certain seasons of the year, millions of pil- 
grims, from various districts and countries, visit the place 
where two rivers unite to form the Granges; and many 
thousands scramble up the steep precipices of the Himalaya 
mountains, where a shrine is erected over the spot whence 
it issues from under eternal snows. 

Women have never been admitted to the priesthood by 
any of the sects. The Code of Menu forbids women and 
children to devote themselves to the ascetic life. But in 
the Pouranas are mentioned some who retired into the soli- 
tude of the forests, and became celebrated saints. The 
mother of Crishna vowed herself to perpetual contempla- 
tion, and attained to complete absorption in God. A story 
is likewise told of a child five years old, who went into the 
forest and performed most painful penances in honour of 
Vishnu. But this was an exceptional extravagance, origi- 
nating in the popular admiration for ascetics, which fired 
the boy's imagination and tempted him to imitation. In 
Malabar, the memory of several saintly women is held in 
high veneration; particularly one named Avyar, whose 
wise sayings have become proverbs. The ancient Jains 
denied that a woman could attain the highest degree of 
holiness, and discountenanced their devoting themselves to 
the religious life. But this might have arisen from jealous 
care of their modesty ; for in later times, when it was the 
custom for the saints to wear white robes, instead of going 
Vol. I.— 10 


naked, they granted that women also might arrive at a 
state of perfect sanctity. From the most ancient time, a 
class of women called Devedasses were devoted in early 
childhood to the service of the temple. They are often 
infants consecrated by their mothers to some god, in fulfil- 
ment of a religious vow. Being deemed an honourable 
way of providing for daughters, as well as a sacrifice highly 
acceptable to the deity, even princes are desirous of ob- 
taining the situation for their children. It is required that 
they should be healthy, with pleasing features and grace- 
ful forms. The Devedasses bathe the little novitiate in a 
pool belonging to the temple, dress her in new robes, and 
ornament her with jewels. The presiding Bramin puts 
into her hand an image of the deity, and teaches her to re- 
peat a solemn vow of dedication to his service. Her ears 
are then bored and the seal of the temple imprinted on her 
with red-hot iron. She is taught to read, write, dance, 
sing, and play on mnsical instruments. No other women 
in Hindostan, not even those of the highest rank, are al- 
lowed to read and write. Many frightful stories are in cir- 
culation concerning the disasters sure to befall a woman 
bold enough to attempt such an innovation. Even Deve- 
dasses are not permitted to look into the Sacred Books. 
Their scanty education is employed in learning verses and 
legends concerning the gods, to recite at public solemnities. 
It is their business to gather flowers for the temple, light 
the lamps, and perform the dancing and singing in reli- 
gious ceremonies. About the waist, arms, and ankles, they 
wear little bells of silver or gold, which make a monotonous 
tinkling as they move, and mingle rather pleasantly with 
the small drums, tambourines, and silver cymbals, to which 
they keep time. They hold wooden castanets, which they 
strike in cadence, all making precisely the same move- 
ments and gestures at the same moment. At the end of 
each dance, they all turn toward the idol, and adore him 
with hands clasped before their faces. They receive food, 
clothing, and pay, from the funds of the temple. Five or 
six hundred are employed in the temple of Juggernaut. 


At the great annual festival, one is chosen for a bride to 
the god, to whom it is supposed he comes in the night and 
reveals whether it will be a fruitful year, and what kind of 
feasts, processions, prayers and contributions he requires 
from the people in order to secure it. She is placed in 
the chariot with the idol, and as it slowly rolls along, she 
proclaims these oracles to the believing multitude. 

The Devedasses are not allowed to quit the precincts of 
the temple, or to marry. Some say they are allowed to 
receive no lovers but Bramins; others declare they are at 
liberty to choose among any of the three higher castes. 
The money thus obtained is put into the treasury of the 
temple. If they have daughters, they are brought up in the 
same way as themselves ; if sons, they are trained to play 
on musical instruments and assist the priests. When these 
women become old or unhealthy, or the Bramins wish to 
have them leave for any reason, they are dismissed ; but 
they are ever after received in society with peculiar re- 
spect. A degree of sanctity is attached to them, and it is 
considered an honour to marry them. Sometimes, however, 
if they are old when they retire from service, they are re- 
duced to poverty, unless they have a handsome daughter, 
on whose earnings they can rely. 

In no part of the world are suicides so extremely com- 
mon as in India. Thousands perish every year by drown- 
ing in the sacred rivers, lying in wait for crocodiles, 
starving, burning, and causing themselves to be buried 
alive. This doubtless originates in the prevailing idea 
that the connection of spirit with matter is an evil, and 
the destruction of the body a sacrifice acceptable to the 
deities. The number of women who voluntarily seek 
death is much greater than that of men ; for in addition to 
their belief in the same melancholy creed, life is far less 
free to them, and their abject situation requires more severe 
repression of all the natural sentiments and instincts. To 
be born again into a female form they dread as one of the 
worst punishments. To avoid it, they perform innumera- 
ble religious ceremonies, and subject themselves to most 


painful penances. When the custom first began of women 
burning themselves on the funeral pile of their husbands, 
is unknown. It probably originated in the universal prac- 
tice of offering sacrifices at funerals, and at tombs, to 
expiate the sins of the deceased. Perhaps some zealous 
devotee voluntarily set the example, and many motives 
would naturally combine to fix it as a custom. This self- 
immolation is called Suttee, more properly Sati, a Sanscrit 
word meaning purification. It is not enjoined in any of 
their Sacred Writings, but some of their celebrated saints 
commend it as highly meritorious ; as may be seen from 
the following extracts : — " So long as a woman does not 
burn herself after the death of her lord, she will be subject 
to transmigrations into the female form." " The woman 
who follows her lord in death expiates the sins of three 
races ; her father's line, her mother's line, and the family 
of him to whom she was given a virgin." "Even though 
her husband had slain a Bramin, or returned evil for good, 
or killed an intimate friend, the woman expiates his 
crimes." " Possessing her husband as her chiefest good, 
herself the best of women, enjoying the highest delights, 
she shall partake of bliss with him as long as fourteen 
Indras reign." 

The professed rule is that the immolation must be per- 
fectly voluntary • and since such rewards were offered in 
Paradise, in addition to the applause of multitudes on 
earth, while on the other hand law and custom condemned 
every widow to an extremely secluded and gloomy life, it 
is not surprising that great numbers rushed on such a fate 
with religious ecstasy, or the courage of despair. A 
Bramin of Bagnapore had more than a hundred wives. 
Twenty-two of them were burned with his corpse, though 
several of them had seldom even seen the man for whom 
they died. The fire was kept burning three days, waiting 
the arrival of successive victims. A woman is never al- 
lowed to marry again, or even to mention the name of 
another man, after the death of her husband or betrothed. 
As they are often mated by parents in infancy, they may 


be left widows while very small children : but nevertheless 
they disgrace themselves if they depart from a life of per- 
petual chastity. Those who are thus left desolate often 
sacrifice themselves, either from religious zeal or weariness 
of life. A girl whose betrothed died when she was six 
years old, is mentioned as having performed the Sati at 
fifteen. No entreaties could prevail upon her to relinquish 
her project. An immolation performed with great firm- 
ness was a subject of family pride, and recounted to suc- 
ceeding generations. Widows sometimes mounted the 
funeral pile with heroic enthusiasm, laid the husband's 
head on their knees, and themselves brandished a torch to 
light the pile. But these sacrifices were not always volun- 
tary, even when they appeared so. Husbands, clinging to 
the idea of exclusive possession, even after death, often left 
injunctions to their wives to make the offering, and to 
their heirs to urge them to it. Women hold no property, 
and it was the interest of relatives, on whom the widow 
would depend entirely for support, to excite their religious 
zeal sufficiently to make them brave the terrors of this 
fiery ordeal. If the courage of the poor creature failed at 
the last dreadful moment, and she succeeded in making 
her escape, she sunk into irretrievable disgrace, which was 
reflected on her kindred. Therefore, when such symptoms 
were discovered, Bramins tied down the victim with strong 
cords, and while the flames rose, her screams were drowned 
in the din of musical instruments. 

After a long contest with Hindoo prejudices, the British 
government at last succeeded in abolishing this cruel cus- 
tom wherever they had jurisdiction. The women were 
generally most grateful to them for the change. They are 
gentle, affectionate, and devotional; extremely fond of 
carrying offerings to the temples, and performing religious 
ceremonies in the sacred groves. 

The belief in a universal interchange of souls throughout 

creation produces singular ideas and customs with regard 

to animals. Yishnu assumes their shape as frequently as 

he does that of man. They are not only represented af 

Vol. I.— 10* 


constant companions and friends of the deities, but often 
as being themselves of divine intelligence, dwelling in 
Paradise, and occasionally incarnated on earth, to assist 
the god to whose service they were devoted. Garuda, 
prince of the eagles, is supposed to guard the entrance of 
"Vishnu's Paradise. Hanuman, prince of the monkeys, 
assumed the form of an ape, and rendered important ser- 
vices to Yishnu while on earth in the person of Rama. 
There are numerous other similar instances. In the Ra- 
mayana it is stated that Garuda, having sinned in thought 
against his divine master, went in penitent guise to seek 
counsel from the crow Bhusanda, who dwelt on the lofty 
summits of the Blue Mountains, and had been devoted to 
the service of Rama from his birth. This crow was " ex- 
perienced in virtues and vices; well acquainted with all 
that had happened since the beginning of time ; sometimes 
wrapped in profound meditation on the being of God ; at 
others pouring forth invocations, and proclaiming the 
praises of Yishnu to the birds of land and water." He 
became the instructor of Garuda, and informed him that 
he had once been a Bramin, but had passed into a crow, in 
consequence of maledictions pronounced upon him by a 
powerful saint. With these ideas, no wonder the brute 
creation are regarded with tenderness and reverence. 
Bulls and cows are sacred in the highest degree, espe- 
cially the latter, on account of a cow in Paradise, styled, 
"Mother of the gods, and of three worlds." Even the 
dung of this animal is sacred, and is used in many religious 
ceremonies. Hindoos will die rather than taste of beef ; a 
fact which has been often proved on board vessels where all 
the provisions were expended except salt beef. The pun- 
ishment for selling a bullock to a European is to be impaled 
alive. Monkeys are sacred, on account of Hanuman, 
famous in the exploits of Rama. Rajahs and nobles often 
expend large sums to celebrate a festival in honour of 
those animals. A monkey, or an ape, on such occasions, is 
seated in a splendid palanquin, and followed by musicians, 
singers, and dancing girls, amid a gorgeous shower of 


fire-works. Two British officers, who shot a monkey 
during one of their huntiBg excursions, were driven by a 
mob of devotees into the river Jumna, where they perished. 
In Jafanapatan, an ape's tooth, believed to be Hanuman's, 
was preserved "for centuries as a relic in the temple, and 
many pilgrimages were made to see it. After the Portu- 
guese conquered that part of the country, the Hindoos sent 
an embassy to them offering three hundred thousand ducats 
for the recovery of this treasure. But, by advice of the 
Catholic Bishop, the tooth was burned in presence of the 
ambassadors, and its ashes thrown into the sea. A cunning 
man afterward persuaded them to buy another tooth, repre- 
senting that an invisible power had substituted a false 
tooth to be burned by unbelievers, and miraculously saved 
the true one. The Crocodile is another of their sacred 
animals. Hindoo mothers are remarkable for passionate 
love of offspring, yet they often throw their infants into 
the jaws of these monsters, believing they thus propitiate 
the deities and secure the child's salvation. The hooded 
serpent Cobra do Capello is sacred, on account of its asso- 
ciation with Yishnu. Some other species of serpents are 
regarded by them as peculiarly the protecting Spirits of 
gardens and vineyards, and therefore they will not consent 
to destroy them. Indeed all animals have a degree of 
sacredness to a devout Hindoo, arising from the belief that 
each one is_ a manifested portion of God. Voracious and 
unclean creatures they believe to be the residence of malig- 
nant Spirits and bad souls. Those that subsist on vege- 
tables are supposed to be favoured by divine beings. They 
peculiarly venerate ants and bees, conceiving the Spirits 
which animate them to-be gifted with superior intelligence. 
They believe every animal is endowed with thought and 
memory, and has some comprehensive mode of communi- 
cating ideas to its own species. 

At Surat is a Banian hospital, enclosed with high walls 
and divided into courts, where diseased and aged animals 
are watched with tenderest care. When an animal breaks 
his limb, or is otherwise disabled, his master carries him 


to the hospital, where he is received without reference to 
the caste or nation of his owner. If he recovers, he cannot 
be reclaimed, but remains to draw water for other creatures 
not able to work. When Sir James Forbes visited this 
place, it was full of horses, oxen, sheep, goats, monkeys, 
poultry, birds, and an aged tortoise, known to have been 
there seventy-rive years. One ward was appropriated to 
rats, mice, and vermin. The overseers frequently hired 
beggars for a stipulated sum to pass a night among fleas and 
bugs, on condition of allowing them a feast without moles- 

Pious pilgrims are often met on the road carrying a soft 
broom to sweep the ground, lest they should tread on in- 
sects, and with nostrils covered to avoid inhaling them. A 
learned Bramin, much interested in science, took great de- 
light in exploring the library of an English resident, who 
one day showed him a solar microscope, to convince him 
that the precautions of devotees were useless, inasmuch as 
every draught of water was filled with animalculae. The 
Bramin became very thoughtful, and offered large sums 
for the instrument. Being difficult to obtain in India, the 
owner for some time refused ; but at last, overcome by re- 
peated importunities, he gave it to him. He instantly 
seized a large stone and dashed the microscope into a 
thousand atoms. In answer to the angry expostulations 
of his foreign friend, he said : " that I had remained in 
the happy state of ignorance wherein you found me ! As 
my knowledge increased so did my pleasure, until I beheld 
the wonders of that instrument. From that moment I 
have been tormented with doubt and perplexed by mystery. 
I am now a solitary individual among millions of people 
all educated in the same belief with myself; all happy in 
their ignorance. So may they ever remain ! I shall keep 
the secret in my own bosom, where it will corrode my 
peace and disturb my rest. Forgive me, my valuable 
friend ; and, O, bring here no more implements of knowl- 
edge and destruction." 

Many causes have been at work to produce a gradual 


degeneracy in the manners, customs, and opinions of the 
Hindoos. Knowledge of the Vedas is confined to the 
learned, and few ever heard of such a doctrine as the unity 
of Grod. The great mass of the people are neglected by 
the Bramins, who are either taken up with the acquisition 
of temporal power, or striving to obtain spiritual elevation 
for themselves, by contemplation and penances. Such in- 
struction as the populace do receive, rather serves to con- 
fuse their moral perceptions. Thefts, perjury, or murder, 
may be atoned for by presents to the priests, and the per- 
formance of prescribed ceremonies, without farther incon- 
venience to the culprit ; while killing a cow, selling beef 
to a European, offending a Bramin, or being converted to 
a foreign religion, involves either the penalty of death, or 
total excommunication from society by loss of caste. 
Everywhere the limitations of caste come in to narrow the 
sympathies and impede the progress of intellect. Hindoos 
are by nature remarkably kind, gentle, and charitable ; but 
their tender-heartedness disappears the moment it comes 
in collision with the laws of caste. If a Bramin sees a 
Pariah drowning, he must not even extend a long pole to 
save him ; for by so doing he would incur pollution in- 
volving loss of caste. A Christian missionary ventured 
to employ a converted Pariah to teach other Hindoo con- 
verts ; but they protested strongly against such an innova- 
tion. "How is it possible," said they, "to allow a Pariah 
to come into our houses to pray ?" Four hundred persons 
left the congregation in consequence, but twenty remained 
to hear the Christian Scriptures read by a man who was 
socially their inferior ; and those twenty were more val- 
uable than the four hundred would have been, with the 
Pariah silenced. 

Hindoo worship makes no provision for the instruction 
of the people in religious ideas or moral duties. It con- 
sists of a routine of ceremonies. Every image is regularly 
served with rice, fruit, and flowers, which after a prescribed 
time are removed for the use of priests and their attendants. 
Perfumes and incense are considered among the most 
acceptable offerings. Large quantities of frankincense were 


carried from Arabia to Hindostan at a period so remote 
that the use of it is mentioned in the ancient poem, 
Bamayana. Among consecrated plants, the Soma, or 
Moon Plant, is peculiarly sacred. The juice is a holy 
drink which Bramins taste on certain religious occasions, 
after having offered prescribed prayers. They say it is not 
necessary to understand the prayers which they mechani- 
cally repeat from the Yedas. It is sufficient to know what 
deity is addressed, and what event is the occasion for sup- 
plication or thanksgiving. In many cases, mysterious 
virtue is ascribed to reciting the form of words alternately 
backward and forward. 

Eeligious models for the people are of a lower character 
than they were in the ancient times. There are now few 
devotees who attempt to copy the austere virtue of old 
hermits ; but popular reverence for such characters has 
produced a swarm of mendicants, who imitate only their 
extravagancies. These are often described by travellers 
under the name of Fakeers, or Yogees. On their forehead 
and arms they usually wear the perpendicular line emblem- 
atic of Sivaites, or the horizontal line of Yishnuites. 
It is marked by the priests with a composition made of 
burnt sandal-wood, tumeric, and cow-dung. Doubtless 
many of these devotees sincerely believe that they expiate 
their own sins and those of others, by their severe suffer- 
ings. Some dig a grave and remain buried in the earth, 
leaving only a small aperture for the admission of food. 
An English gentleman in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, 
perceiving a strange-looking creature in a hole of the 
ground, beat it till the blood flowed, without causing any 
movement, or any remonstrance. It was a Fakeer who 
had vowed himself to that mode of torture. Some stand 
in one constrained posture for years and years. Others 
crawl on their hands and knees round an extensive empire. 
Some roll their bodies over the ground from Indus to 
Granges, collecting money to dig a well, or build a temple, 
in atonement for some sin. Many of them go entirely 
naked, and come to look like wild beasts, with nails of 


twenty years growth, dirty matted hair, and arms withered 
by being held aloft for years. Women of distinction com 
pete with each other for the honour of feeding such saints, 

All of this class do not renounce the world so completely. 
There are communities of them, on whom the devout 
bestow houses and lands. They make money by agricul- 
ture and trade, and send out beggars to procure alms. 
There is a community of Sivaite saints, who are accus- 
tomed to sell their military services to the highest bidder ; 
being willing to fight against everything but their own 
religion. They stimulate their courage by excessive use 
of intoxicating herbs and drinks, though wine and spiritu- 
ous liquors are strictly forbidden by their Sacred Books, 
and ceremonies of purification are prescribed for a religious 
man who has merely drank water from vessels that have 
contained such liquors. Associations of female devotees, 
said to be far from austere in their lives, reside in some of 
the temples of Siva. The Fakeers usually wear garments 
of yellowish red, similar in colour to the bark-cloth worn by 
ancient anchorites. There appears to be sacredness attached 
to the colour ; for there is an express law forbidding Bramins 
to sell red cloth, or woven bark. 

Like the ascetic sages of ancient time, these modern 
Fakeers are great travellers. They are met everywhere, 
from the confines of Russia to Cape Comorin, from China 
to Bombay. They wander about in armed troops, on pil- 
grimages to holy cities and sacred wells, levying contribu- 
tions as they go. To extort charity from passengers, they 
stun their ears with loud bells, or strike together plates of 
brass. Some of them are handsome, robust men. They 
eat everything but beef, and are often immoderate in the 
use of food and intoxicating liquors. When they arrive 
at villages, they dance and sing songs describing the amours 
of Siva or Crishna, for which they receive a reward of food 
or money. On one occasion, Bombay was so infested by 
these mendicants, that they became an intolerable nuisance. 
The governor deemed it imprudent to make any direct 
attempt to disperse them. But he issued an order that all 


beggars and idlers should be set to cleaning the great ditch 
surrounding the fortifications, and the next day not one of 
the saintly fraternity was to be found. Bishop Heber, 
speaking of the sacred city of Benares, says : " Fakeers' 
houses occur at every turn, adorned with idols, and send- 
ing out an unceasing tinkling of discordant instruments ; 
while religious mendicants of every sect, offering every 
conceivable deformity, which chalk, cow-dung, disease, 
matted locks, distorted limbs, and disgusting attitudes of 
penance, could show, literally line the principal streets on 
both sides. I saw repeatedly men who had kept their 
hands clenched till the nails grew out at the backs ; or 
hopping on one foot, the other having shrunk close up to 
the hams, from a vow .never to use it. Devotees go about 
with small spears thrust through their tongues and arms, 
or with hot irons pressed against their sides. Their coun- 
tenances denote suffering, but they evidently glory in 
patient endurance, thinking doubtless that they are expia- 
ting sins by their agony. These beggars keep up the most 
pitiful cry for alms." Among some sects, persons of every 
caste, even Pariahs, can become Fakeers. These are little 
respected by the higher classes of Hindostan, and the 
Bramins especially avoid them. Yet some of the Bramins 
themselves are by no means worthy of the reverence which 
their station and office demands. Within the temples they 
not unfrequently fight and scratch each other, scrambling 
for the fees and offerings. In days of primitive simplicity 
a Bramin was not allowed to take a second wife, unless the 
first bore him no children, or committed some great mis- 
demeanor ; but they now marry fifteen, twenty, or a 
hundred wives, as suits their convenience. The Code of 
Menu strictly forbids receiving money or gifts in exchange 
for a daughter or female relative; but in these days, 
parents, even of the highest castes, do not scruple to dis- 
pose of young daughters to. whoever will pay the most^ 
though he be old or diseased. The expenses for the main- 
tenance of the priesthood are enormous. One temple in 
the Deccan maintained forty thousand officiating Bramins, 


besides a great number of Devedasses. Of course it is for 
their interest to inculcate a blind unquestioning faith in all 
they teach, and to load popular worship with images and 
ceremonies, for all of which they receive pay. It being 
admitted that images were necessary for the ignorant, as 
pictures are for children, and these images commanding a 
ready sale, they of course multiplied rapidly. They are 
of every variety of size and material, from gold to wood 
and clay, from thirty feet high to a finger in length. They 
are generally grotesque, deformed things, made by the 
smith and the potter, or rudely fashioned by the humble 
worshippers in preparation for some festival. The Bramins 
reconcile this with the Yeda doctrine of God's unity, by 
saying these are mere subordinate agents fulfilling various 
offices in the universe under One Euler. But the populace 
have no such idea. They believe all these gods and 
goddesses to be independent deities, with supreme power 
over the departments they govern. When a Hindoo buys 
an image, he goes to the priest to have certain ceremonies 
performed over it, which are supposed to endow it not only 
with life, but with supernatural power. If the idol be 
masculine, another ceremony must be performed to marry 
him to the image of some goddess. Not only their temples 
but their houses are full of these idols, some of which are 
extremely hideous. They offer them a portion of their 
food, fan them in warm weather, cover them from cold, 
and put them to bed every night. The Bramins tell many 
legends of their assuming various shapes and colours, and 
working miracles ; all of which are readily believed. 

There is universal belief in Evil Spirits, of various ranks 
and degrees of power, from gigantic demons, who attack 
the orbs of light, down to the malicious little Pucks, who 
delight in small mischief. They suppose these enter the 
minds of men, producing bad thoughts and criminal ac- 
tions, and also take possession of the body, producing in- 
sanity, fits, and all manner of diseases. They can be cast 
out only by some form of holy words pronounced by the 
priest, with ceremonies prescribed for such occasions. 
Vol I— 11 F 


While Sir James Forbes was presiding judge in a Hindoo 
district, a petition was sent to him stating that a certain 
woman had been for a long time possessed by two Evil 
Spirits ; and that the petitioner's daughter, having been 
with this woman, and witnessed certain conjuring tricks, 
and heard the devils talk, came home and fell down on 
the bed without sense or motion, and continued so for 
hours. She continued to have these fits for two months ; 
at the end of which time, she told her parents that one 
of the devils had come out of the woman and entered into 
her, tormenting her all the time to offer it food and sacri- 
fices. Dr. Buchanan mentions a man in Mysore supposed 
to be possessed by one of these demons, which caused him 
to fall down in fits. The whole village was in an uproar, 
and could only be appeased by the presence of a Bramin, 
who recited prayers, and strewed consecrated ashes over 
the individual. Amulets and charms, duly prepared by 
religious ceremonies, are worn as a protection against Evil 
Spirits, likewise against witchcraft. They have many ma- 
gicians, most of whom are women. It is said they can be- 
witch people by keeping their eyes steadfastly fixed on 
them ; that they can travel through the air invisibly ; can 
bring intelligence from remote places with incredible swift- 
ness; can read secret thoughts; and if thrown into the 
river with a stone tied to them, they will not sink. 

Sir James Forbes mentions several individuals who were 
in possession of a singular power, seemingly supernatural ; 
particularly a Bramin, who could see what was occurring 
in distant places, and read the thoughts of people who 
came into his presence. He confesses himself much puz- 
zled by prophecies and revelations of this kind, which 
most undoubtedly occurred during his residence in India. 

Some degree of chemical knowledge has existed among 
the Bramins for many ages. They are acquainted with 
the antidotes to many poisons, and have a chemical prepa- 
ration, called Tantra, with which they rub the skin to en- 
able it to resist the action of fire. When people are sus- 
pected of crime, Bramins are often called in to determine 


the question by ordeal. Sometimes the accused individual 
is ordered to swallow poison ; sometimes he walks on red- 
hot iron ; sometimes a coin is put in a vessel of boiling 
oil, into which he plunges his arm and brings out the coin. 
The arm is previously washed by Bramins, who supplicate 
the appropriate deities, and afterward pronounce a bene- 
diction. If these dangerous experiments prove harmless, 
it is considered a sufficient proof of innocence. 

Now, as in ancient times, they are firm believers in 
astrology, and watch the motions of birds and bees for 
omens. When a child is born, they consult the aspect 
of the stars to ascertain what were the signs of his 
destiny. When a ship is about to sail, or a bargain 
to be concluded, they go to a Bramin or a soothsayer, 
to decide whether a day is lucky or unlucky. Some days 
are proper for going to the north, others for going to the 
south. Some are supposed to be so entirely under evil in- 
fluence, that they abstain from all manner of business. 
They have lucky hours, and even minutes, which they 
carefully appropriate to the transaction of very important 
affairs. The Bramins annually prepare an astrological al- 
manac, defining what days are lucky or unlucky, for the 
various actions of life. But even if all other signs are 
propitious, a clap of thunder will usually make them re- 
linquish any undertaking. 

At the commencement of an eclipse, people rush to the 
rivers to bathe, and throw water toward the sun, with 
many invocations. Prayers on such occasions are worth 
a hundred times as much -as at any other time ; for 
they believe that a powerful demon seizes on the sun and 
puts him in great anguish, from which he may be relieved 
by the prayers and donations of human beings purified by 

When they travel, they often carry with them the image 
of a serpent wreathed round a pole six or seven feet high ; 
and every morning the whole company pay adoration 
to it. 

The death of a cow or calf is thought to be a sure indi- 


cation that the deities are offended. On such occasions 
there is great lamentation in a family. The owner of the 
animal often leaves home for two or three years, to perform 
long pilgrimages of expiation. The water of a cow is used 
in various ceremonies of religious purification ; for similar 
purposes, they likewise make a preparation from the dung 
of a perfectly black cow. When it has lain in the shade 
till it has become perfectly dry and hard, Bramins carry it 
to some of the sacred places, burn it on a pile of chaff, and 
gather the ashes into vessels. They then sift it three times, 
recite prayers over it, sprinkle it with clean water, and 
make it into small lumps, which they dry, and perfume 
with the essence of flowers. They dissolve them in water, 
and, turning toward the sun, sprinkle it on their foreheads 
and breasts, with appropriate prayers. They use it to 
avert misfortunes, and peculiarly to keep off the Spirits of 
Death, who are sent for human souls. Bramins and saints 
keep a large supply of this article for devotees. They 
have great horror of touching the dead, or any thing that 
has been in contact with a corpse. If a man even hears 
that a relative has died in a distant country, he is deemed 
unclean, and must purify himself by religious ceremonies. 
If a whole year has passed since the death, merely touch- 
ing water is considered sufficient purification. 

Water is supposed to cleanse the soul, and guard from 
evil. When a child is born, priests sprinkle it, and sprinkle 
the dwelling, and all the inmates of the house bathe. They 
do this from an idea that it keeps off Evil Spirits. People 
perform ablutions before they eat ; and priests purify them- 
selves with water, accompanied with prayers, on innumer- 
able occasions. When a man is dying, Bramins hasten to 
plunge him into a river, believing that the departing soul 
may be thus freed from impurities before it quits the body. 
Some rivers are deemed more peculiarly holy and effica- 
cious than others ; such as the Granges, the Indus, and the 
Crishna. The water of the Ganges is used on all the most 
solemn occasions. Images of the deities are washed with 
it ; and Bramins are sprinkled with it, when inducted into 


the priestly office. Happy above other men is he who is 
drowned in that sacred stream. Once in twelve years, the 
waters of Lake Cumbhacum are supposed tQ, be gifted with 
power to cleanse from all sin. As this period approaches, 
Bramins send messengers in every direction to announce 
when the great day of ablution will take place. The shores 
are crowded with a vast multitude of men, women, and 
children, from far and near. They plunge at a signal from 
the officiating Bramin, and in the universal rush, many a 
one is suffocated, or has his limbs broken. Water from 
Ganges is kept in the temples, and when people are dying 
they often send from a great distance to obtain some of it. 
Before devotees put their feet into a river, they wash their 
hands, and utter a prayer. 

In some processes of purification, the Bramin rubs mud 
on the man, and then plunges him three times, throwing in 
a handful of rice each time as an offering. During this 
process, he says : " Supreme Lord, this man is impure, 
like the mud of this stream; but as water cleanses him 
from this dirt, do thou free him from his sin." 

Fire is deemed a still higher degree of purification than 
water. Thus whole families were supposed to be redeemed 
from sin by the self-immolation of a widow on the funeral 
pile. Saints who destroyed themselves by fire were 
believed to ascend to the higher degrees of Paradise, and 
enjoy an immensely long period of heavenly bliss. In 
honour of some of their deities, they walk over burning 
coals, to the sound of musical instruments, faster or slower, 
according to their degree of zeal. Some carry their children 
in their arms, that they also may receive a share of the 
benefit. If sins which require fire are not purified in this 
world, it is supposed they must pass through a fiery process 
in the next. 

Blood, being the seat of life, was always considered a 
very efficacious atonement for sin. The gods were sup- 
posed to be propitiated according to the number and 
value of the victims. When great national benefits were 
to be obtained, or evils averted, they sometimes sacrificed 
Vol. I.— 11* 


a thousand horses at once. It was an ancient custom for 
Bramins to lay the sins of the nation on the head of a 
horse. It was cjone with solemn imprecations and religious 
ceremonies, and then the animal was turned loose to carry 
off the sins of the people. Bulls were rarely sacrificed, on 
account of their veneration for those creatures. Men, being 

1 O 

higher than animals in the scale of existence, their blood 
was deemed more excellent as an expiation ; and by being 
sacrificed it was supposed that they secured Paradise for 
themselves also. One of their most solemn sacrifices con- 
sisted of a man, a bull, and a horse. There is a tradition 
that in ancient times a young man and woman, richly 
decorated, were thrown into the Granges, as an offering to 
the god of the river. In later times, they substituted 
images, instead of living beings. Human sacrifices were 
abolished at an early period, and animal sacrifices are 
totally disapproved by numerous sects. Men, horses, and 
bulls were formerly offered to the grim goddess Cali ; but 
now her altars flow with the blood of kids only. To re- 
concile this custom with their tenderness for animals, a 
belief is inculcated that the human soul imprisoned in the 
brute is thus purified from all its sins, and, freed from 
degrading transmigrations, rises to the Paradise of Indra, 
and becomes a musician in his band. 

Hindoos have many religious festivals, most of them 
observed either at the new moon or the full moon. They 
have six successive festivals, in commemoration of the six 
periods in which Brahma completed the work of Creation. 
On the twenty-fifth of December, people decorate their 
houses with garlands and gilt paper, and universally make 
presents to friends and relatives. This custom is said to 
be of very great antiquity. In November, they have a 
festival, during which they light up vast fires by day, and 
illuminate all their houses at night. At the full moon in 
October, they commemorate the circular dance of Crishna 
with the Gopias, which some learned men suppose to have an 
astronomical significance. During the great festival called 
Ramayana, the streets are filled with gorgeous processions, 


accompanied by dancers and musicians, playing on horns, 
gongs, cymbals, and drums. Dramatic representations 
illustrate the wonderful adventures of Kama ; an incarna- 
tion of Vishnu, at different periods of his life, prince, con- 
queror, and holy hermit. Three children are dressed with 
high tinsel crowns, and painted with vermillion, to imitate 
the statues of Eama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshman. 
Hanuman, Kama's great general, is represented by a man 
armed with a club, with a mask like an ape, and an ape's 
tail tied to his back. In ancient times, it is said, these 
three children were poisoned at the end of the feast, that 
their souls might be absorbed in the deities they repre- 
sented ; but this was afterward prohibited. 

The ignorance and credulity of the people have been at 
all periods practised upon by artful or self-deluded men. 
About the end of the year 1829, appeared an extraordinary 
child named JSTarayun Powar. He was the son of a peasant, 
and born in a village belonging to the Kajah of Sattara. 
When only eight years old, he was famous for his extra- 
ordinary power over snakes. He enticed them from among 
rocks, stones, and ditches, played with them, and ran about 
naked with them twisted all round his neck and arms. 
Whether he fondled or chastised them, they took it all in 
good part. They came when he called, and went away at 
his bidding ; but he was seldom easy without some of his 
favourite animals around him. Why they had this pre- 
dilection for each others' company, and how he obtained 
such singular power over them, each one must explain 
according to his own theory ; but it is a fact that several 
similar instances of serpent-taming have occurred in the 
East. In the time of the ancient anchorites, one of the 
signs of having become perfectly holy, completely identified 
with God himself, was the power of handling serpents 
without harm. Whether the parents of Narayun and the 
Bramins in his neighbourhood really believed his power was 
derived from such a source, or whether they saw fit so to 
represent it from motives of self-interest, is known to them- 
selves. There was an old prediction by the poet Toolseedas 


that an extraordinary person would arise and redeem 
Hindostan from foreign dominion. He was not to be a 
mere man, but an incarnation of Indrajit, a hermit of such 
exalted holiness that he had the sublime reward of dying 
by the hand of Rama himself. Bramins sought to prove 
that the period predicted was precisely that of Narayun's 
birth. Mysterious words were said to have dropped from 
the child at various times, giving hints of his divine nature, 
and the purposes for which he had come to earth. He 
certainly did not seem to be much absorbed in heavenly 
things ; for like other boys he was full of play and mischief, 
and particularly fond of gambling with small shells called 
cowries. However, they called him " Narayun the Holy," 
and finally "the living Grod Narayun." In his name they 
established a place of sacred bathing, where the sinful and 
the sickly were invited to come and wash away diseases 
and crimes. Rumours spread through the country that 
many cripples had been cured, and many blind received 
their sight. Bramins composed hymns in his praise, and 
four were appointed to keep record of all his words and 
actions. His disciples taught that men ought no longer to 
worship images of wood and stone, but place all their faith 
in this living divinity, come to deliver them from all foreign 
yokes, as Rama had rid the world of giants. In a few 
months, ten thousand pilgrims, many of them of wealth 
and rank, came to lay their offerings at the feet of Narayun ; 
and many who could not come, forwarded vows and offer- 
ings. On every one who bathed in the waters, or bowed 
to the divinity, a tax was levied. His parents and the 
administering Bramins grew rich rapidly. A little girl, 
said to be an incarnated goddess, was chosen for his bride ; 
and it was rumoured that on a certain day he would cause 
a magnificently caparisoned horse to rise out of the earth, 
on which he would ride forth to meet her. The enthusiasm 
spread wonderfully, and infected all classes more or less. 
It is even said that a European resident in India, a dis- 
tinguished scholar, and a firm believer in Christianity, 
being asked his opinion, answered : " The facts I have heard 


quite stagger me. The whole Hindoo population are 
thoroughly convinced of the divinity of this child, and are 
going mad after him. It is impossible to say what extra- 
ordinary means God may adopt for the spiritual recovery 
of the Hindoos. Ordinary means and missions seem to 
have failed with them." 

The Rajah of Sattara manifested great uneasiness at the 
pretensions of Narayun. The wife of one of his ministers, 
who for several years had been subject to singular trances, 
had prophesied that he was destined to restore the old 
Hindoo empire ; and the rival claims of the peasant boy 
excited his jealousy. But while the enthusiasm was at its 
height, the child died. He was one day exhibiting as 
usual his perfect control over snakes, which were brought 
to him in great numbers by strangers, when a Pariah pro- 
duced a very large one, declared to have been brought all 
the way from Benares. Narayun seized hold of it boldly, 
but for the first time he found a serpent he could not 
manage. It became irritable and bit him mortally. His 
death was attributed to magic, and it was confidently 
predicted that he would rise on the third day. When this 
hope failed, they said it would certainly occur on the eighth 
day. A crowd of pilgrims waited to witness his resurrec- 
tion, and finally dispersed disappointed and sorrowing. 
Rumours were afloat that he had actually appeared in 
different places. Some tried to propagate the belief that 
his soul had lodged in the body of a Bramin, who would 
eventually fulfil all that had been promised of him. But 
finally it all passed away, and his worshippers came to the 
conclusion that he was merely an incarnated demon, who 
came on earth for a while to amuse himself with mortals. 

The Christian missionaries of various sects, who have 
been in India for many years, have made little perceptible 
progress in changing the faith of the people ; but many 
causes are at work to fulfil the prophecy connected with 
the fall of Siva's Staff at Benares. Hindostan being the 
seat of very lucrative commerce, a variety of foreign na- 
tions have contended for possession of it. Mahometans 


from Tartar j began their conquests as early as A. D. 976 ; 
and after a long succession of bloody wars, during which 
they destroyed a vast number of temples, and carried off 
immense treasures, they firmly established their religion in 
large districts of the country. Many adopted the faith 
and costume of their conquerors, and others were finally 
allowed freedom to worship in their own way. One of the 
principal mosques was formerly a Hindoo temple. They 
killed a cow in it to prevent any of the natives from en- 
tering it. 

On the Malabar coast are more than two hundred thou- 
sand JSTestorian Christians, whom the Hindoos call Naza- 
renes. They have had a regular establishment of bishops 
and clergy there for more than a thousand years. In the 
fifth century, Jews, fleeing from the oppression of Chris- 
tian countries, were allowed by a compassionate Brarnin to 
settle in Hindostan. They are now numerous in some 
portions of the country. Fire- Worshippers, escaping from 
the Mahometan conquerors of Persia, in the seventh cen- 
tury, begged for a shelter, and had their claim allowed, on 
condition that they would eat no beef, and never kill ox 
or cow. They have scrupulously kept this promise, and 
large numbers of them reside in India, under the name of 
Parsees. The Portuguese, who have long had possessions 
there, established the Inquisition at Goa, and Catholic mis- 
sionaries have been scattered through the country. France 
and Denmark have settlements there. Great Britain has 
conquered several kingdoms, and her laws govern millions 
of the people. She has had Episcopal bishops resident 
there for many years, and numerous missions from dissent- 
ing sects. 

Consequently, the landscape of India is dotted all over 
with Hindoo pagodas, Mahometan mosques, Jewish syna- 
gogues, Catholic cathedrals, and Protestant churches. The 
Hindoos, though remarkable for tenacious attachment to 
their own forms of faith, are very ready to admit that all 
modes of worship are acceptable to God, if performed with 
sincerity of heart. It is a common maxim with them that 


" Heaven is a palace with many doors, and each, one may 
enter in his own way." The Bramins, who compiled the 
Code of Gentoo Laws, say in the preface, that " the 
Supreme Being is sometimes employed with the attendant 
of the mosque, in counting the sacred beads, and sometimes 
in the temple at the adoration of idols. He is the friend 
of the Hindoo, the intimate of the Mahometan, the compa- 
nion of the Christian, and the confidant of the Jew." Sir 
William Jones says : " It is their firm opinion that the 
Deity has appeared innumerable times, and by innumer- 
able avatars, not only in many parts of this world, but of 
all worlds, for the salvation of his creatures ; and that both 
Christians and Hindoos adore the same God under different 
forms." Actuated by this kindly feeling, their women and 
children often gather fruit and flowers for the mosque and 
the cathedral, as well as for their own sacred groves. 

When men of different creeds are brought into frequent 
contact, they cannot avoid mutually giving and receiving. 
Their prejudices gradually soften and finally melt away. 
The interfusing of religious ideas from various sources is 
conspicuous in the teaching of many modern Hindoos. 
One of these, named Swamee Narain, attracted consider- 
able attention about 1820. He went through various dis- 
tricts teaching and exhorting the people ; and many vil- 
lages of bad character became virtuous and orderly under 
his influence. He inculcated temperance and purity, and 
forbade his disciples to look upon a woman. He taught 
the existence of one invisible God, who made and sustains 
all things, and whose especial dwelling is in the hearts of 
those that diligently seek him. But he likewise taught 
that there is a Spirit, who was with God from all eternity, 
who cometh from God, who likewise is God, and who hath 
made known to man the will of God. This Spirit he said 
came down to earth in ancient times in the form of Crishna, 
whom wicked men put to death by magic. He was the 
same as the Sun, and was to be worshipped as God's 
image or representative. Since his death there had been 
many pretended revelations and false divinities set up. 


Bishop Heber, in conversation with him, remarked that 
he had spoken truly when he said there was but one God. 
He tried to convince him that one incarnation of that God 
was sufficient for mankind, and existed in the person 
of Jesus Christ, who was the Word of God, proceeding 
from him, and one with him from all eternity. But 
Swamee Narain insisted there had been many incarnations, 
suited to the wants of different nations ; one for Christians, 
another for Mahometans, others for Hindoos. He said he 
regretted the prevailing worship of images ; but symbols 
were necessary for the ignorant, and he feared to offend 
their prejudices by preaching against them. 

The Hindoos are extremely averse to any change from 
ancient customs and opinions. The description given of 
them in the time of Alexander the Great, more than two 
thousand years ago, would nearly describe them now. 
But notwithstanding this strong conservative tendency, 
innovations of various kinds have been gradually intro- 
duced; especially in Bengal, which is more subject to a 
mixture with foreigners in the relations of government 
and commerce. When Hindoos were invited to dine with 
European magistrates or merchants, they ate at a table by 
themselves, and had their food cooked by one of their own 
nation, according to the rules of their religion. This 
scruple still remains with a majority of the people ; but 
here and there liberal individuals have set it aside, saying : 
" We think the Christians are as pure as we are, and cer- 
tainly some of them are wiser." The higher castes, who 
formerly abstained from animal food, now eat fish, mutton, 
and kid's flesh ; and the lower orders eat almost every- 
thing except beef. The spirit of caste still exerts a tremen- 
dously strong influence, but its barriers are thrown down 
in numerous instances. In the extensive districts under 
British control, Bramins are executed for capital crimes, 
the same as other men. Some of the wealthiest families 
are of Soodra origin, and the descendants of Bramins may 
sometimes be found among cooks, or serving as soldiers in 
the army. Though intermixture with foreigners is for- 


bidden as a great sin, large classes of naif European 
parentage have sprung up, and are early accustomed to a 
foreign language and a foreign faith. The lower orders 
manifest an increasing neglect of the rules of caste, and 
are generally desirous to send their children to schools 
established by the English. It is predicted that English 
will become the prevailing language. The upper classes 
now generally speak it with fluency, and take great interest 
in its literature. It was formerly considered very wrong 
to give foreigners access to their Sacred Books ; but there 
is now an established profession of Hindoo teachers in 
Bengal to instruct Europeans in Sanscrit, that they may 
examine the Yedas, the Shastras, and the Pouranas. At- 
tendants on the temples begin to complain that the offer- 
ings are of little worth, compared with former times. 
One of them lately told a missionary that he was unable 
to procure means to repair the roof, in consequence of 
which water was dripping on the image of the god during 
all the rainy season. He reported this to the people, but 
they seemed quite indifferent about it. He thought they 
were all becoming unbelievers. 

Bramins strive to reconcile themselves to this state of 
things, on the ground that they are living in the Cali Yug, 
when religion is reduced to naught by decrees of Deity, 
and therefore it is useless to try to screen their Sacred 
Books from the profanation of foreign hands. Atrocious 
murders have often been confessed and extenuated in their 
courts, on the plea that it is the Cali Yug, when crimes 
must abound. 

No priesthood in the annals of the world have retained 
so much power, for such a long series of centuries, as the 
Bramins. That as a class they have abused this power, is 
the inevitable result of possessing it ; but there are among 
them intelligent, learned, and exemplary men, whose 
characters would do honour to any nation. Bishop Heber 
says: "In one of the temples I saw a Bramin who passed 
the whole day on a little pulpit, about as high and large 
as a dressing-table. At night, he sleeps on the pavement 
Vol. I.— 12 


beside it. His constant occupation is reading or lecturing 
on the Vedas, which he does to as many as will hear him, 
from eight in the morning till four in the evening. He 
asks for nothing ; but a small copper basin stands near the 
pulpit, and he subsists entirely on the alms which the 
charitable are disposed to drop into it. He is a small, pale 
man, of an interesting countenance, said to be eloquent and 
extremely learned in the Sanscrit." Some of the Bramins 
of Malabar wrote to the Danish missionaries : " God alone 
rules all the world, and all that is therein. It is he who 
rules the eight hundred and forty thousand kinds of living 
creatures ; but because of his various appearances, he has 
different names. Hence we say Brahma creates, Vishnu 
rules, Siva destroys ; all which different expressions denote 
but One Supreme Being. And when we attribute the pro- 
tection of towns and villages to tutelar gods, our meaning 
is that the Great God does mediately protect towns and 
countries by his vicegerents and governors. For there is 
not the least motion in the world without the will of the 
First Cause. Indeed there are many gods, but they cannot 
so much as move a straw out of its place, without the 
assistance of the First Cause ; therefore, he is justly called 
the Lord of the World ; for it is his power that rules all 
things, and he is infinite and incomprehensible." This 
statement doubtless represents the general views of en- 
lightened classes of Hindoos at the present time ; but they 
cannot yet believe that ideas which elevate priests and 
princes would also elevate the people. They argue that 
to present the doctrine of a purely spiritual Deity to men 
absorbed in the cares of animal existence, would inevitably 
make them atheists. Strongly attached to their ancient 
religion, from force of education, Bramins maintain that it 
is entirely misunderstood by Europeans, whose modes of 
thought prevent them from having any conception of the 
spiritual significance of their allegorical writings and sacred 
ceremonies. Intelligent worshippers of every age and 
nation might urge the same plea with perfect justice ; for 
every symbol, even the rudest, was originally made sacred 


as the embodiment of some idea, and the spiritual-minded 
long continue to reverence the adulterated form for what 
it originally signified. 

A transition state, when society is preparing to cast its 
old skin, is unpleasant and difficult for timid and reveren- 
tial temperaments. Sacred laws appropriate to one age, do 
not supply the wants of another age. They become in- 
convenient or impossible of application when progressive 
centuries have introduced manifold changes. Theologians 
of India have expended great learning and patience to 
make some old maxims of their Sacred Books harmonize 
with the new wants of society, gradually, though slowly, 
changing. In the process, several of those maxims have 
been formally abrogated by legal enactment ; others have 
fallen into disuse, with the remark that " they were doubt- 
less intended for a more perfect state of the world." 

Some of the Bramins manifest great earnestness and 
candour in examining other modes of faith. Among these 
none have been so remarkable as Rammohun Roy, a 
wealthy Bramin, born in Bengal, in 1780. He was well 
acquainted with Sanscrit, Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, Greek, 
Latin, and English. While quite young, he published a 
book, "Against the Idolatry of All Religions." In this he 
gave great offence to Hindoos and Mahometans, by the 
freedom with which he animadverted upon what he con- 
sidered the ..defects in both their religious systems. His 
gentle nature was pained but not discouraged by the enmity 
he excited. In 1816 he translated the more spiritual por- 
tions of the Yedas from Sanscrit into Hindostanee and 
Bengalee, two of the most widely spread languages of 
Hindostan, and circulated them wherever he could, free of 
cost. In the Preface he says: "I have never ceased to 
contemplate with the strongest feelings of regret the 
obstinate adherence of my countrymen to their fatal system 
of idolatry ; violating every humane and social feeling, for 
the sake of propitiating their supposed deities, especially 
by dreadful acts of self-destruction, and the immolation of 
nearest relatives, under the delusion of conforming to sacred 


religious rites. In these practices I view with sorrow the 
moral debasement of a race capable of better things, whose 
susceptibility, patience, and mildness of character, render 
them worthy of a happier destiny. Under these impres- 
sions, I am impelled to lay before them genuine translations 
of portions of their own Scriptures, which inculcate not 
only the enlightened worship of One God, but the purest 
principles of morality. It seems to me that I cannot better 
employ my time than in an endeavour to illustrate and 
maintain truth, and render service to my fellow-creatures ; 
confiding in the mercy of that Being to whom the motives 
of our actions and the secrets of our hearts are well known." 

This attempt to restore the primitive simplicity of the 
Hindoo religion made Eammohun Eoy as unpopular as if 
he had sought to introduce an entirely new system. But 
still following the great impulses of his liberal soul, wishing 
to see all mankind acknowledge themselves children of 
One Father, he translated an abridgment of the Yedanta 
into English ; in order, as he says in the Preface, to prove 
to his European friends "that the superstitious practices 
which deform the Hindoo religion have nothing to do with 
the pure spirit of its dictates." He says : " By taking the 
path which conscience and sincerity direct, I, born a Bramin, 
have exposed myself to the complaints and reproaches even 
of some of my relations, whose prejudices are strong, and 
whose temporal advantages depend upon the present system 
of idolatry. But these, however accumulated, I can tran- 
quilly bear; trusting that a day will arrive when my 
humble endeavours will be viewed with justice, perhaps 
acknowledged with gratitude." 

He studied the Christian Scriptures with profound atten- 
tion, and held their maxims in great veneration. But the 
mischiefs he had seen result from a plurality of gods, led 
him to reject the doctrine of the Trinity, which he saw 
would inevitably degenerate into a new form of Polytheism, 
if received into minds trained like the Hindoos. But he 
believed that Christ was pre-existent, and of a nature 
superior to angels, which is extremely analogous to ideas 


entertained by various Hindoo sects concerning their own 
saints. He translated into Sanscrit and Bengalee the 
parables and moral teachings of Christ, entitled " The 
Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness." He 
omitted the miracles and doctrinal portions of the Gospels. 
In the Introduction he says: " Belief in a Supreme Super- 
intending Power, the author and preserver of this har- 
monious system, prevails generally ; being derived either 
from tradition and instruction, or from an attentive survey 
of the wonderful skill and contrivance displayed in the 
works of nature. A due estimation of that law which 
teaches man to do unto others as he would be done by, is 
also partially taught in every system of religion with, 
which I am acquainted ; but it is principally inculcated by 
Christianity. This essential characteristic of the Christian 
religion I was for a long time unable to distinguish as 
such, amid the various doctrines I found insisted on in the 
writings and conversation of Christians. I feel persuaded 
that the moral precepts of the New Testament, separated 
from other matters contained in that book, will be more 
likely to improve the hearts and minds of men of different 
persuasions and degrees of understanding. The historical, 
and some other portions, are liable to the doubts and dis- 
putes of free-thinkers and anti -Christians ; especially the 
miraculous relations, which are much less wonderful than 
the fabricated tales handed down to the natives of Asia, 
and consequently apt at best to carry little weight with 
them. The Hindoos have records of wonderful miracles 
performed by their saints and incarnated gods, in the 
presence of cotemporary friends and enemies, the wise and 
the ignorant, the select and the multitude. The orthodox 
sects can even support them with authorities from their 
inveterate enemies, the Jains, who acknowledge entirely 
the truth of these miracles, and only differ in maintaining 
that the power to perform them was derived from Evil 
Spirits, while the orthodox believe it was given by the 
Supreme Deity. But moral doctrines, tending evidently 
to the peace and harmony of mankind at large, are beyond 
Vol. I. — 12* 


the reach of metaphysical perversion, and intelligible alike 
to learned and unlearned. This simple code of religion 
and morality is so well fitted to regulate the conduct of the 
human race, in the discharge of their various duties to God 
and society ; it is so admirably calculated to elevate their 
minds to high and liberal ideas of One God, who has 
equally subjected all living creatures to disappointment, 
pain, and death, without distinction of caste, rank, or 
wealth, and equally admitted all as partakers of the boun- 
tiful mercies he has lavished over nature, that I cannot 
but hope the best effects from its promulgation in the 
present form." 

Doubtless seed scattered from such friendly motives will 
produce good fruit in the great harvest-field of the future. 
But during the life-time of Rammohun Roy his suppres- 
sion of the miracles, and the reasons assigned for it, in- 
volved him in protracted controversies with Christian 
missionaries, and occasioned, as he says, " much coolness 
toward him in the demeanour of some whose friendship he 
held very dear." At the same time, his high estimate of 
the Christian religion rendered him an object of persecu- 
tion to his own countrymen. They instituted legal pro- 
ceedings to deprive him of caste ; but he was enabled to 
defeat them by his profound knowledge of Hindoo law. 

In 1833 he was induced to visit England ; and on that 
distant shore his great soul departed from its earthly habi- 
tation. When he found himself dangerously ill, he deemed 
it prudent to guard against further attacks on his property 
and the caste of his children. He therefore called his 
Hindoo servant and charged him to observe well ail his 
words and actions, that on his return to India he might 
testify he had never changed his religion or forfeited his 
caste. For the same reasons, he expressed a wish not to 
be buried in a Christian cemetery. His remains were ac- 
cordingly placed in a grove belonging to the house where 
he died. 

The followers of the Braminical religion are computed 
at over one hundred and fifty millions. 

EGYPT. 139 


" The faculty of reverence is inherent in all men, and its natural exer- 
cise is always to be sympathized with, irrespective of its objects. I did 
not wait till I went to Egypt, to become aware that every permanent 
reverential observance has some great idea at the bottom of it ; and that 
it is our business not to deride, or be shocked at the method of manifesta- 
tion, but to endeavour to apprehend the idea concerned." — H. Martineau. 

History and poetry have preserved traditions of an 
extraordinary race of men, called Ethiopians. The name 
is from Greek words signifying burnt faces ; and the an- 
cients appear to have applied it to people browned by the 
sun, whether their complexions were black, or merely 
dark. According to a map made to represent the ideas 
of Herodotus concerning the world, as expressed in his 
History, about four hundred years before our era, there 
were two nations of Ethiopians ; one in Asia, on the banks 
of the Indus, another in the northern portion of Africa. 
There is evidence that these people were powerful and 
illustrious, as far back as the Trojan war, about one thou- 
sand one hundred and eighty-four years before our era. 
Memnon then reigned over them, and it is recorded that 
he assisted Priam, king of Troy, against the invasion of 
the Greeks. Homer calls them " the blameless men ;" and 
relates that Jupiter, at certain seasons of the year, left 
Olympus and went to spend twelve days in that pious and 
hospitable region. Egyptian annals are full of allusions 
to them. Persia, and other old Asiatic nations, mingle 
Ethiopian legends with songs composed in honour of their 
own heroes. Herodotus says they worshipped the gods 
with extremest veneration. The ancient historian, Diodo- 
rus Siculus, declares that they were the religious parents 


of the Egyptians, the inventors of pomps, sacrifices, and 
solemn assemblies. The Hebrew poets generally mention 
Ethiopia in connection with Egypt, Isaiah speaks of " the 
labour of Egypt, and the merchandise of Ethiopia." Jere- 
miah describes "the mighty men, Ethiopians and Libyans, 
that handle the shield," as coming forth with the Egyp- 
tians to battle. Ezekiel says: "Great pain shall be in 
Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt." It is re- 
corded that Meroe was the capital of the ancient Ethiopia 
in Africa. Current tradition declared that Thoth, whom 
Greeks called Hermes, founded this state, more than five 
thousand two hundred years ago ; and the date is said to 
be authenticated by a very old astronomical observation. 
Traditions handed down by the Egyptian priesthood agreed 
that in Meroe was laid the foundation of the most ancient 
states of Egypt. Thebes, the first civilized state of Egypt, 
is believed to have been founded by a colony from thence. 
The obscurity which rests on this part of history has been 
somewhat enlightened within the last century, by the dis- 
covery of the site of ancient Meroe, in the country now 
called Sennaar, and comprised within African Ethiopia on 
the map marked according to Herodotus. Manj r small 
pyramids were found there, which, from their number, are 
supposed to indicate a burial-place. They are constructed 
like the Hindoo pyramids, fronting the east, and the four 
sides facing the four cardinal points. They have external 
marks of greater age than the huge pyramids at Memphis. 
Herodotus says: "The only gods worshipped in Meroe 
are Ammon and Osiris. They have also an oracle of Am- 
nion, and undertake their expeditions when and how the 
god commands." The temple where these oracles were 
delivered is recorded to have been in the desert, at a little 
distance from the city. Modern travellers have discovered 
the ruins of a temple in the desert, near the collection of 
small pyramids. Earns' horns are sculptured in many 
places on the stones ; and the ram is well known to have 
been an emblem sacred to Ammon, and the distinguishing 
mark of his temples. In the inmost sanctuary of these 

EGYPT. 141 

temples was a Sacred Ship, enclosed in a shrine, and 
screened by a veil. When the oracle was to be consulted, 
a procession of priests carried about this Ship, in its porta- 
ble sanctuary, placed on poles, which they rested on their 
shoulders. From certain movements of the ship, during 
their religious ceremonies, omens were gathered, according 
to which the High Priest delivered the oracle. 

The government of Meroe was in the hands of a caste 
of priests, who, guided by the oracle, selected one of their 
own order for king. When this choice was announced to 
the people, they fell down and adored him, as the repre- 
sentative of their god Ammon, who had appointed him to 
rule over them. He was obliged to live and govern 
according to laws prescribed by the priests. When the 
oracle indicated that a change of rulers was necessary, the 
High Priest sent a messenger that the god commanded 
him to die, and that mortals must not seek to evade divine 

Whence did this powerful priesthood come? Many 
learned men maintain that they came from that part of 
Ethiopia said to be on the banks of the Indus; that is, 
from Indus-stan, which we call Hindostan. The points of 
resemblance between the opinions and customs of India 
and Egypt are too numerous and too obvious to be over- 
looked by any one who even glances at the subject. Some 
scholars, with less probability on their side, maintain that 
Egypt is the oldest, and that Hindostan was settled by 
colonies from thence. One thing is certain and undisputed, 
namely, that a very ancient and very intimate relation 
existed between the two countries. Meroe, by its location, 
was the centre of a great caravan trade known to have 
been carried on in very early ages, between India and 
Egypt and Arabia. It has been already stated that the 
Pouranas of Hindostan contain records of two remarkable 
emigrations from that country to Egypt, at a very remote 
period. The first were the "Yadavas, or sacred race," 
who fled from the oppressions of Cansa, the same tyrant 
who caused so many children to be slaughtered when he 


was seeking the life of Crishna. The date they assign to 
this event agrees very well with the date which tradition 
ascribes to the first settlement at Meroe ; and the Yadavas 
are conspicuous in the history of Crishna. The other emi- 
gration recorded in the Pouranas is that of powerful tribes, 
called Pali, or Shepherds, who governed from Indus to 
Ganges, and enlarged their empire by conquests in Misra- 
stahn [their word for the Land of Egypt], where one of 
their princes became so wealthy that "he raised three 
mountains, one of gold, one of silver, and one of gems." 
This is supposed by some to describe the three great 
Pyramids, at Memphis, one of which was originally 
overlaid with white marble, another with yellow 
marble, and the third with spotted marble, of fine grain, 
susceptible of exquisite polish. Many scholars consider 
the Pali identical with the powerful tribes of Asiatic 
Ethiopians, described by Herodotus, and supposed to dwell 
on the banks of the Indus. Others conjecture they were 
Assyrians, or Phoenicians. Manetho, who was High Priest 
at Heliopolis in Egypt, about three hundred and four years 
before the Christian era, wrote a history of Egypt from the 
earliest times, in the Greek language. He professed to 
have taken it from inscriptions engraved by Thoth, or 
Hermes, on stone pillars, in the sacred characters. These 
he declares were afterward written in books, and laid up 
in the inmost recesses of the temples, to which he, of course, 
had access. A few fragments of Manetho's History have 
been handed down to us. In these it is stated that Egypt 
was overrun "by a race of Shepherds from the East," in 
the reign of their king Timseus ; which some computations 
place four thousand two hundred and sixty years ago, and 
others much earlier. He informs us that some said these 
invaders were Arabians. 

Among the proofs of a very intimate connection, in some 
way, between India and Egypt, the following may be men- 
tioned. In both countries there was a powerful hereditary 
priesthood, who had exclusive possession of the Sacred 
Books, and of all the learning extant in their time ; con- 

EGYPT. 143 

sequently, they were the only judges, physicians, and 
astronomers. In both countries, the religion of the priests 
was carefully kept secret from the people ; and the conse- 
quence was that the most grotesque and monstrous forms 
appeared on the surface of society, while high spiritual 
allegories and profound metaphysical inquiries were con- 
cealed behind the veil. Both countries were originally 
governed by priests, and afterward kings were chosen from 
the warrior caste, but were regulated and controlled by the 
priests. In both countries society was divided into castes, 
of which the sacerdotal was the highest. In both, the 
priests married, but there was no female priesthood. Both 
had a language for sacred purposes, which was different 
from the vernacular tongue. Both believed that bathing 
in holy rivers, or being drowned in them, would confer 
peculiar sanctity. Both believed there was an immense 
reservoir of waters above the firmament, whence those 
rivers flowed. Both believed in a fifth element above our 
atmosphere, called ether, which the gods breathed, as 
mortals breathe air. In both places, priests taught to the 
higher castes that all souls emanated from One Universal 
Soul, in successive gradations. Both taught that there 
were ascending spheres of existence above this earth. Both 
taught the transmigration of human souls into animals. 
The same animals were considered sacred in both places. 
There was similarity in their religious festivals and pro- 
cessions, especially in the custom of carrying their sacred 
images from one temple to another, in great four-wheeled 
cars. The architecture of ancient Egypt bore a striking 
resemblance to that of India. Both suggested the idea of 
grottoes or caverns, and were characterized by the same 
style of ornaments. The pyramid was a form prescribed 
for sacred buildings in both countries, therefore a truncated 
pyramid generally formed the main entrance to the temples. 
There was always a sanctuary into which none but the 
priests entered, and the outer courts were for the people. 
Both decorated their temples with flags on festival occasions. 
Both made similar offerings to the gods. The trial of 


departed souls by the Judge of the Dead is sculptured on 
Hindoo and Egyptian walls, and they are so similar that 
one might be mistaken for the other. Their astronomical 
systems were alike. They represented the signs of the 
zodiac by the same emblems, consecrated a day to each of 
the seven planets successively, and made the same calcula- 
tions concerning alternate destructions and reproductions 
of this world. It is said by the learned, that the Egyptian 
language bears very few and slight analogies to the Sanscrit ; 
and no traces of the hieroglyphic writing have yet been 
discovered in India. But Bruce, the traveller, says that the 
language spoken at Masuah, not far from Meroe, is substan- 
tially Sanscrit. Many places mentioned by Mungo Park, in 
his Second Journey to Africa, have Sanscrit names, which 
are actually current in India at the present day. The Nile 
was formerly designated by a Sanscrit word, signifying 
dark blue ; and the same name was anciently given to the 
river Indus. Alexander the Great thought he had dis- 
covered the source of the Nile in India. He was probably 
misled by the coincidence of names, and the crocodiles and 
lotus-blossoms, which abounded in both rivers. Blumen- 
bach, the celebrated naturalist, had in his possession the 
skull of an Egyptian mummy, and of a Hindoo ; and he 
said they bore a more striking resemblance to each other 
than any other two skulls in his collection. Paintings on 
the walls convey the same idea of similarity in their persons. 
In both places, the higher castes are represented with a 
lighter and brighter colour than the lower, who are more 
darkened by exposure to sun and wind. Denon says the 
pictures of couches, chairs, and other articles in ancient 
Egyptian tombs, obviously indicate that they were made 
of a species of wood brought from India. 

If the Egyptians still existed as a nation, and had pre- 
served their old customs and Sacred Books, as the Hindoos 
have done, it would doubtless be easy to find many more 
resemblances. But Egypt has passed away from the face 
of the earth, and only by persevering industry has learning 
been able to trace a few of her footsteps. What we know 

EGYPT. 145 

of her history and opinions is mainly derived from the 
testimony of wise and illustrious men, who were drawn 
thither by her renown for knowledge in arts, sciences, and 
religious mysteries. . Abraham is supposed to have lived 
nearly four thousand years ago. That Egypt was already 
famous in his time is testified by Josephus, historian of the 
Jews, who informs us that Abraham went down thither, 
to become an auditor of the priests, and compare their 
religious ideas with his own. 

Herodotus, the oldest Greek historian, visited Egypt 
about four hundred and forty-eight years before Christ, to 
collect materials from the priests, who were celebrated for 
having carefully preserved the records of past ages. His 
history has come down safely to the present time. 

In less than a hundred years after, Plato, the most cele- 
brated of the Greek philosophers, was drawn to Egypt by 
the renown of priestly schools at Heliopolis, and resided 
there several years. Many of his writings are preserved, 
and they contain frequent allusions to the Egyptians. 

Strabo, author of a Greek geographical work, describing 
the manners and customs of different nations, went to 
Egypt about fifty years after the Christian era. Heliopolis, 
eclipsed by the new city of Alexandria, was then going to 
decay, and the priests were no longer among the most 
learned of their age; but they talked of departed glory, 
and pointed out to him their once famous schools, and 
the house where Plato had resided. This book is also 

The ancient Egyptian priests claimed immense antiquity 
for their country. They told Herodotus that Egypt was 
originally governed by gods; of whom there first reigned 
a series of eight, then a series of twelve, then a series of 
twelve more ; that these rulers had uniformly one Superior 
among them ; and the last of them were Osiris and his son 
Horus. By this government of gods it is naturally sup- 
posed they meant successive orders pf priests, each with a 
Sovereign Pontiff, bearing the najne pf the deity to whose 
service he was devoted, and by whose oracular direction* 
• y 0L . 1^—13 g 


he professed to govern. Thus if a priest of Ammon was 
chosen ruler, they called it being governed by Ammon ; 
if a priest of Osiris was elected, they called it the govern- 
ment of Osiris. From the reign of Osiris to their king 
Amasis, they reckoned fifteen thousand years ; and Amasis 
reigned five hundred and sixty-nine years before Christ. 
Herodotus says: "On this subject, the Egyptians have no 
doubts; for they profess to have always computed the 
years, and to have kept written accounts of them with the 
minutest accuracy." It was customary for every high 
priest of Ammon during his life-time to deposit in the 
great temple at Thebes a statue of himself. They pointed 
out to Herodotus three hundred and forty one of these 
colossal wooden images, assuring him that no one of them 
was the statue of a god, but all were mortal men, and priests, 
in a direct line of succession from father to son ; all of them 
after the reign of the gods. Allowing three generations 
of men to be equal to one hundred years, he computed 
that this succession required an interval of eleven thousand 
three hundred and forty years. 

We are in the habit of calling the Greeks the ancients, 
but they considered themselves a nation of yesterday com- 
pared with the Egyptians. Plato visited Egypt about 
three hundred years later than Solon, the lawgiver of 
Athens ; and he informs us that when Solon inquired of 
the priests concerning ancient affairs, he perceived that, 
compared with them, neither he nor any other of the 
Greeks had any knowledge of very remote antiquity. 
When he began to • discourse concerning what seemed to 
him the most ancient events, such as the Deluge of 
Deucalion, one of the oldest of >the priests exclaimed: 
" Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children. All your 
souls are juvenile; neither containing any ancient opinion 
derived from remote tradition, nor any discipline hoary 
from its existence in remote periods of time. You mention 
one deluge only, whereas many have happened." 

These statements of Egyptian priests are rejected as 
fabulous ; but the great antiquity of their country is proved 

EGYPT. 147 

beyond dispute by sculptures and hieroglyphic writing, cut 
into the solid rock of ancient temples, tombs, and palaces. 
The dry climate and sandy soil were favourable to their 
preservation. There was no frost to heave them, no rainy 
season to corrode the durable material. For centuries after 
this wonderful people had passed away, their gigantic 
memorials stood in the solitude of waste places, seldom 
seen by the eye of man. The marvellous accounts of 
travellers at last attracted general attention toward them, 
and within the last half century, France and England have 
devoted much money and learning to the careful investiga- 
tion of these stupendous monuments. The task was attended 
with difficulties apparently insurmountable ; for the secret 
of hieroglyphic writing had been lost for ages, and no man 
could reveal it. But when the French army were digging 
the foundations of a fort, at Rosetta, in Egypt, they found 
a large block of stone containing an inscription in three 
different characters ; one in Greek, one in the common 
Egyptian writing, and one in the sacred characters used 
only by the priests. Underneath them all, it was recorded 
that the same inscription had been ordered to be engraved 
in three forms. The Greek language was familiar to 
scholars, and a clue to the other unknown characters was 
thus obtained. But the stone was much mutilated, and 
though several names remained in the Greek portion, un- 
fortunately_only that of Ptolemy remained in hieroglyphics. 
The base of an obelisk, with an inscription in Greek and 
in hieroglyphics, was afterward discovered at Philce. The 
names of Ptolemy and Cleopatra in hieroglyphics were 
well preserved, and the letters common to both were 
written in the same manner; they were therefore con- 
cluded to be signs of sound, which we call letters. This 
feeble ray of light was applied by learned men of different 
nations, with inconceivable perseverance and ingenuity. 
One after another added something to the stock of knowl- 
edge, until at last an available system was formed. The 
Coptic language is a relic of the old vernacular tongue of 
Egypt, and various writings were preserved in it. M. 


Champollion, an acute Frenchman, had studied it almost. 
from boyhood, and was thus enabled to briDg another ray 
of light to the investigation of hieroglyphics. He dis- 
covered that the alphabet consisted of images of external 
objects, and represented the first letter of that object's name 
in the common Egyptian language ; as if in English we 
should make a dog for D, a cat for C, and a serpent for S, 
Many and great difficulties remained. One of the most 
troublesome was the custom of omitting vowels in hiero- 
glyphics, and writing only the consonants. Without 
attempting to give a detailed account of the numerous 
obstacles, it is sufficient to say that by great learning, 
labour, and patience, several inscriptions on the ancient 
monuments have been satisfactorily deciphered. 

On a stone tablet discovered at Karnak are engraved 
the names of a successive series of sixty-one kings. We 
suppose that Moses lived about three thousand four hun- 
dred and forty-nine years ago; and the latest of these 
kings was prior to the date we assign to Moses. 

Several ancient authors agree in testifying that Menei, 
commonly called Menes, was the first king; and their 
statement has been confirmed by engravings on monu- 
ments, and writings on papyrus. Menei is an abbreviation 
of Amun-ei, signifying "he who walks with Amun ;" by 
which his cotemporaries understood " he who walks with 
God." According to Manetho's list of kings, he reigned 
seven thousand seven hundred and sixteen years ago. 
The statements of that old historian concerning many of 
the later kings, though long doubted, have of late years 
been remarkably corroborated by the monuments ; but his 
testimony with regard to Menes is rejected. Josephus says 
this ancient king lived more than one thousand three hun- 
dred years before Solomon, who was born one thousand 
thirty-three years before Christ. Some modern scholars 
carry the date of Menes as far back as two thousand eight 
hundred and ninety years before our era ; others bring it 
as near to it as two thousand two hundred years. The 
learned on this subject suppose two thousand seven hun* 

EGYPT. 149 

dred and fifty years before Christ to be a near approxima- 
tion to the truth. 

The Italian Marquis Spineto, who carefully investigated 
this subject, says: "The first period of Egyptian history 
begins with the establishment of their government, and 
comprehends the time from Misraim to Menes, during 
which all religious and political authority was in the 
hands of the priesthood, who laid the first foundation of 
the future power of Egypt, founding and embellishing the 
great city of Thebes, building magnificent temples, and 
instituting the Mysteries of Isis." 

The ancient religion of Egypt, like that of Hindostan, 
was founded on astronomy, and eminently metaphysical 
in its character. In common with other oriental nations, 
they supposed the origin of the world was from a dark 
chaos. Soul existed from eternity, and by its action upon 
Matter, chaos was brought into form, and out of darkness 
beamed forth light. The fiery particles ascended and 
formed the firmament of luminaries ; the heavier portions 
descended, and formed earth and sea, whence animals and 
plants proceeded. From the Eternal Soul were evolved 
successive emanations of Spiritual Intelligences, more or 
less elevated in character and office, according to their 
nearness or remoteness from the Central Source. 

The Source of Being was never represented by any 
painting or sculpture. Those who understood the religion 
of Egypt, considered the deities mere emblematical repre- 
sentations of his various attributes. The first emanation 
from him was Amun, whom Greeks called Jupiter Am- 
nion. He was supposed to dwell in a radiant upper 
sphere, far above the subordinate deities. He is described 
as "The Male Origin of all things;" "The Spirit of the 
Supreme, moving on the face of the waters ;" " The Spirit 
who animates and perpetuates the world, by mixing him- 
self with all its parts ;" " He who brings to light hidden 
things;" "Lord of the Three Regions;" "The King of 
Gods." His image was always painted dark blue, and 
represented with a Ram's head and horns ; probably with 
Vol. I.— 13* 


some reference to the constellation, which bears that name ; 
therefore a ram's head became a sacred amulet, worn by 
the devout as a protection against evil. As Creative Wis- 
dom, he was named Amun-Cneph. As the Intellectual, 
or Spiritual Sun, he was called Amun-Ra. His worship 
was universal, but he was peculiarly the presiding deity 
of Thebes, which was founded by a colony from Meroe. 

Tradition declared that the Ethiopians were his first 
worshippers ; and it is supposed that Homer's legend con- 
cerning Jupiter's visit to "the blameless men," had refer- 
ence to an annual procession of the priests of Jupiter 
Ammon at Thebes, up the Kile to some place consecrated 
by the worship their ancestors had offered. The image 
of the god was probably carried on a great car, according 
to Hindoo custom. 

Phtha, belonging to the higher class of gods, was called 
the son of Amun Cneph, and said to have proceeded from 
an egg formed by him. To Phtha was attributed the 
invention of science, by which the laws of nature were 
arranged. He was considered the founder of the dynasties 
of Egypt: therefore kings often took the title "Beloved 
of Phtha." In the royal city of Memphis, which was 
consecrated to him, he had a magnificent temple, splen- 
didly adorned, where the grand ceremony of the inaugu- 
ration of Egyptian kings was performed with great pomp. 

Of all Egyptian deities, Osiris is the name most familiar 
to modern ears. He was formerly supposed to be a mere, 
representation of the visible sun ; but increasing knowl- 
edge on the subject proves that he embodied a more com- 
prehensive idea. It has been already shown how the 
Hindoo mind deified the active and passive powers of 
generation. The same tendency was manifested in Egypt. 
Osiris did not represent this power in any one department 
of nature. He appears to have been, like Siva in his 
genial capacity, The Fructifying Power of the Universe. 
The emblems of the sun were sacred to him, and astro- 
nomical ceremonies of worship typified him as the sun, to 
whose rays the earth owes her fruitfulness. His worship 

EGYPT. 151 

was mingled with that of the god of their holy river, 
named Nilus; and the sculptures often represent him as 
sprinkling manure on the earth, because to his pervad- 
ing warmth the river, at its annual overflow, owes its 
fertilizing power. Because plants cannot germinate with- 
out water, vases full of it were carried at the head of 
processions in honour of Osiris, and his votaries refrained 
from destroying or polluting any spring. This reverence 
for the production of Life introduced into his worship the 
sexual emblem so common in Hindostan. A colossal 
image of this kind was presented to his temple in Alex- 
andria, by king Ptolemy Philadelphus. Crowned with 
gold, and surmounted by a golden star, it was carried in a 
splendid chariot in the midst of religious processions. A 
Serpent, the emblem of Immortality, always accompanies 
the image of Osiris. The Hawk was considered a bird of 
the Sun, and was therefore sacred to him ; and his body 
was often represented with the head of a hawk. The 
emblem which signified his name was the orb of the sun 
on the head of a hawk. This formed the winged globe, 
so conspicuous in Egyptian architecture. 

Osiris was called "the oldest son of Time, and cousin 
of the Day." Being a general representative of the Gen- 
erating Principle, whether existing in sunshine, water, or 
the production of animal life, there was a mingling of 
ceremonies and emblems in his worship, which has greatly 
puzzled those who seek to understand the mythology of 
Egypt. To increase the difficulty, he is often represented 
as a beneficent ruler on earth, at whose birth it was said 
a loud voice proclaimed, " The Lord of the World is born I" 
He taught men how to prepare corn and cultivate grapes, 
and went forth to carry arts and agriculture to other 
nations, leaving his wife Isis to govern in his absence. On 
his return, his brother Typho, by a successful stratagem, 
shut him up in a chest and threw him into the sea. Isis 
wandered about in mourning garments, seeking for the 
body, which she at last found ; but Typho discovered it, 
and tore it into fourteen pieces. Isis gathered the fragments 


and gave them burial. Osiris, having thus performed his 
benevolent mission on earth, descended into Amenti, the 
Region of the Dead, and having passed through its stages, 
ascended to a higher life, where he remained to dispense 
blessings to the world, in answer to their prayers in his 
name, and finally to overcome the Evil Principle, that had 
destroyed him. Henceforth, one of his principal offices 
was to judge the dead, and rule over that heavenly region 
where souls of good men were admitted to eternal felicity. 
It is not easy to determine whether this account is an alle- 
gory, containing some hidden meaning, or whether it 
indicates a belief in the incarnation of Osiris. 

He was universally worshipped, but peculiarly at Philoe, 
where he was supposed to be buried. At stated seasons, 
the priests went in solemn procession and crowned his 
tomb with flowers. So sacred was the island, that no one 
was permitted to approach it without express permission 
from the priests. Here were celebrated the Great Mys- 
teries of Osiris, carefully guarded from all eyes and ears, 
save of those who had been initiated by severe probation. 
In a ruined temple at Philoe is a chamber, on the walls of 
which the mysterious life of Osiris is represented in a 
succession of sculptures. Twenty-eight Lotus plants indi- 
cate the number of years he was supposed to have lived 
on earth. His passage from this life is shown by the at- 
tendance of deities and genii, that presided over funerals. 
He is then represented with a crook in one hand, and a 
flagellum, or whip, in the other, as Judge of the Dead : 
the office which he held ever after his ascension to a higher 
life. Champollion says the double destiny of the soul was 
symbolized by the march of the sun through the upper 
and lower hemisphere. This might be an additional reason 
why Osiris, as Judge of Souls and Lord of the Heavenly 
Region, where they received reward, should have the em- 
blems and worship of the sun. On the walls of ruins in 
various places occur representations of the dead at their 
last ordeal. Osiris, seated on his throne, accompanied by 
Isis, receives a tablet on which the god Thoth has recorded 

EGYPT. 153 

the actions of the deceased, after they have been weighed 
in the balance of Thrnei, goddess of Truth. Horus, al- 
ways represented as a child, is sometimes seated on a 
Lotus before the throne, sometimes on the crook of Osiris. 
He was the symbol of resuscitation, or new birth ; and was 
placed there to express the Egyptian idea that nothing is 
ever annihilated ; that to die was only to pass into a new 
form. As Judge of the Dead, who assigned to souls new 
bodies, celestial or terrestrial, Osiris was the dispenser of 
Immortal Life, and this was probably the reason why a 
Serpent was always one of his appendages. 

Though he belonged to the third series of gods, he was 
more revered than even the eight highest deities. Amun 
Ea is represented in the sculptures as making offerings to 
him. It was deemed irreverent to utter his name. He- 
rodotus mentions him as "one whose name I am not at 
liberty to disclose." The most sacred form of oath was, 
" I swear by him who was buried at Philce." This pecu- 
liar sacredness appears to indicate that he was the only 
god in their mythology represented as incarnated in a 
human form, and dwelling among men. Every human 
soul was considered as an emanation from the Divine Soul, 
and eternally a portion of it. But that was quite different 
from the idea of a Deity voluntarily descending from blest 
abodes, performing a benevolent mission among men, suf- 
fering death,- and rising again to the higher regions, thence 
to dispense blessings on his faithful worshippers. This 
history of the incarnation was one of the most important 
of their religious mysteries; and so carefully was it 
guarded by the priests, that little can now be learned of 
its purport. It may be that some wise and beneficent 
ruler, perhaps a High Priest of Osiris, was believed to be 
the Deity himself descended on earth for the benefit of 
mankind, as Hindoos believed concerning their princes 
Kama and Crishna. Wilkinson, in his valuable work on 
the Ancient Egyptians, pronounces the whole story purely 
allegorical. Herodotus says that when the priests of 
Amun showed him the three hundred and forty-one 


statues, they assured him that every one of them was a 
man and the son of a man; and "they asserted that 
during all that time no Deity had appeared in a human 
form ; but they did not say the same of the time anterior 
to that account, or that of the kings who reigned after- 

The worship of Osiris must have been of extremely 
ancient date ; for he is represented as Judge of the Dead, 
in sculptures cotemporary with the building of the Pyra- 
mids, centuries before Abraham was born. Among the 
many hieroglyphic titles which accompany his figure in 
those sculptures, and in many other places on the walls 
of temples and tombs, are "Lord of Life," "The Eternal 
Euler," "Manifester of Good," "Eevealer of Truth," 
" Full of Goodness and Truth." 

Ra, the son of Phtha, represented the visible Sun, and 
presided over the physical universe. Heliopolis, which 
means the City of the Sun, was consecrated to him. His 
worship was performed there with great splendour, and his 
priests were renowned for learning. 

The Moon was a masculine deity in Egypt, as in Hin- 
dostan. Thoth, whom Greeks call Hermes, is supposed to 
have represented its beneficent qualities. He also presided 
over learning, was supposed to impart all mental gifts, and 
to be the medium of communication between gods and 
human beings. He is represented as the secretary of 
Osiris, standing before him with a pen or stylus, in his 
hand, writing on a tablet. To him are attributed the 
invention of the alphabet, astronomy, arithmetic, music, 
dancing, writing, and laws. 

Instead of one deity who alternately destroyed and 
reproduced, like the Hindoo Siva, Egyptians represented 
the Destroyer as twin brother with Osiris, and named 
him Typho. He was god of Darkness and Eclipse. All 
bad influences were attributed to him, such as drought, 
disease, deluge, and conflagration. The sea was considered 
under his dominion, on account of its being such a dan- 
gerous and destructive element. He is represented in the 

EGYPT. 155 

sculptures as a frightful monster, with the ravaging hip- 
popotamus for a symbol. 

Among the goddesses, the highest was ISTeith, who 
reigned inseparably with Amun in the upper sphere. She 
was called " Mother of the Gods ;" " Mother of the Sun." 
She was the feminine origin of all things, as Amun was 
the male origin. She presided over wisdom, philosophy, 
military tactics, and the moral attributes of the mind. Her 
symbol was a vulture, by which the Egyptians, for some 
unknown reason, represented maternity. She held the 
same rank at Sais that Amun did at Thebes. Her temples 
there are said to have exceeded in colossal grandeur any- 
thing ever before seen. On one of these was the celebrated 
inscription thus deciphered by Champollion : "I am all 
that has been, all that is, and all that will be. No mortal 
has ever raised the veil that conceals me. My offspring is 
the San." 

Isis, supposed to be the same as the Hindoo Isa or Isi, 
was universally worshipped, and held in peculiar reverence, 
though she belonged to the inferior series of deities. She 
was the daughter of Time, twin sister and wife of Osiris, 
with whom she is everywhere inseparably united. It was 
formerly supposed she signified the Moon ; but her office, 
like that of Osiris, was much more extensive than the 
benefits of any one luminary. She was the universal Pas- 
sive Principle of Generation, as he was the Active Principle. 
She was the recipient, or mould, of the Life he imparted. 
To her was ascribed the^rm of all good in the universe, 
as to Osiris was ascribed the soul of all good. She was 
Nature, the fruitful mother and nurse, containing within 
herself germs of the reproduction of all forms of life. Hence 
her symbol was the egg. Both she and Osiris are frequently 
represented holding the Egyptian Cross, Emblem of Life. 
This universal benefactress is said to have had ten thousand 
titles ; the most common was the Potent Mother Goddess. 
She presided over agriculture, and men no longer butchered 
each other after she had revealed to them the valuable 
qualities of wheat and barley, which had till then grown 


wild ; therefore they presented to her the first sheaves of 
their harvests as an offering. The dew that refreshed the 
earth was venerated as the tears of Isis, in memory of her 
lost Osiris. A ship was carried in the celebration of her 
festivals ; perhaps to indicate that her worship was im- 
ported into Egypt. As goddess of health, she was believed 
to heal human diseases. Many medicines continued to be 
called by her name, even as late as the time of Gralen, a 
famous Greek physician, who lived a hundred and thirty- 
one years after Christ. She was particularly worshipped 
at Memphis, where her Mysteries were celebrated with 
much pomp and ceremony. The festival continued eight 
days, during which some of her votaries scourged them- 
selves severely at her altars. The sculptures represent 
this favourite goddess in a great variety of forms and 
offices. Sometimes she has a human head with horns, 
sometimes a cow's head. Sometimes she wears an Egyp- 
tian hood, sometimes she is crowned with Lotus blossoms ; 
often she is shrouded in a dark blue veil. She holds in 
her hand a staff like a crosier, or a Lotus stem, or the 
sacred musical instrument called sistrum. Sometimes she 
is nursing her infant Horus, son of Osiris ; sometimes she 
has the babe seated on her knee, receiving worship from 
those around her, with a guardian hawk over her head, 
encircled by radii of water-plants. This holy family of 
Egypt seems to have been a favourite subject with those 
old artists. Sometimes they represent Isis protecting the 
body of Osiris with her outstretched wings. She is always 
by his side in Amenti, where he presides as Judge of the 
Dead. She reigned with him while he was on earth, and 
when she died, they believed her soul was transferred to 
Sirius, which they call Sothis. Divine honours were paid 
to this resplendent star, which was consecrated to Isis, and 
deemed the Birth Star of our world. At the season when 
it rose before the sun, and could therefore be visible in its 
own light, commenced the inundation of the Nile, which 
spread fertility all over the land. One of the titles of Isis 
was, " She who rises in the Dog Star." Prayers addressed 

EGYPT. 157 

to her were believed to have great efficacy. Plutarch 
relates that Garmathone, Queen of Egypt, having lost her 
son, prayed fervently to Isis, at whose intercession Osiris 
descended to the region of departed souls, and restored the 
prince to life. 

Egyptians believed in a host of subordinate deities, with 
attendant genii in each department. The twelve months 
were governed by the Spirits of the twelve signs of the 
zodiac. Each day was under the guardianship of the 
planet to which it was consecrated. The stars were ani- 
mated with Souls, supposed to take an active interest in 
the affairs of this world. In hieroglyphic writing, a Star 
signifies a Ministering Spirit. Oanopus, God of Waters, 
was an object of grateful worship ; so was old ISTilus, the 
deity of their fertilizing river, who was always represented 
by a black image. Kham, with the goddess Eanno, pre- 
sided over the fruitfulness of Gardens and Vineyards. Her 
symbol was a small serpent, which they, as well as the 
Hindoos, supposed to protect such places. Anouke, guar- 
dian of purity and household ties, is represented with a 
Lotus in one hand, and the Emblem of Life in the other. 
Every human being had an attendant Spirit, from birth to 
death. Beneficent Spirits preserved health ; evil ones en- 
tered into men, and produced fits and other diseases. Air, 
earth, water, stones, plants, and animals, were all supposed 
to be under the influence of genii, good or bad. 

Reverence for the mystery of organized life led to the 
recognition of a masculine and feminine principle in all 
things, spiritual or material. Every elemental force was 
divided into two, the parents of other forces. The active 
wind was masculine, the passive mist, or inert atmosphere, 
was feminine. Rocks were masculine, the productive earth 
feminine. The presiding deity of every district was repre- 
sented as a Triad, or Trinity. At Thebes, it was Amun, 
the creative Wisdom ; Neith, the spiritual Mother ; and a 
third, supposed to represent the Universe. At Philoe, it 
was Osiris, the Generating Cause ; Isis, the Receptive 
Mould ; and Horus, the result. The sexual emblems 
Vol. L— 14 


everywhere conspicuous in the sculptures of their temples 
would seem impure in description, but no clean and 
thoughtful mind could so regard them while witnessing 
the obvious simplicity and solemnity with which the sub- 
ject is treated. 

Concerning future states of existence, they held views 
very similar to those taught by the Bramins. The human 
f, soul was regarded as an emanation from the Universal 
V Soul, and a portion of him. It had fallen from a state of 
purity and bliss, and was sent into this world for expiation. 
Eventually, it would be absorbed in the Eternal Source, 
after many transmigrations through a great variety of 
forms. Herodotus says, " The Egyptians are the first of 
mankind who asserted that the soul of man is immortal-. 
"When the body perishes, they believe it enters the form 
of a newly-born animal ; but when it has passed through 
all animals of the earth, water, and air, it again returns to 
a human body. They affirm that this series of transmi- 
grations is completed in three thousand years." 

The expression of Herodotus seems to imply return to a 
new human body. But it is generally supposed that they 
expected the soul would come back, at the end of that 
period, to the same body it formerly inhabited ; and there 
seems no other way of accounting for the great care and 
expense bestowed on embalming the dead, the size and 
magnificence of the tombs built for their reception, and 
the numerous convenient and valuable articles usually 
deposited therein. 

Diodorus Siculus says: "The Egyptians consider this 
life as of very trifling consequence, and they therefore 
value in proportion a quiet repose after death. This leads 
them to consider the habitations of the living as mere lodg- 
ings, in which as travellers they put up for a short time ; 
while they call the sepulchres of the dead everlasting 
dwellings, because the dead continue in the grave such an 
immeasurable length of time. They therefore pay but little 
attention to the building of their houses, but bestow cost 
and care, scarcely credible, upon their sepulchres." 

EGYPT. 159 

Before a funeral, a tribunal of forty members was assem- 
bled to inquire into the character of the deceased, and decide 
whether he was worthy of burial. Every one was free to 
appear as accuser, but false charges were severely punished. 
If the departed one was adjudged worthy of sepulture, 
deities were invoked to receive him among the just, and 
with many solemn ceremonies he was consigned to the 

All the dead, both men and women, were spoken of as 
Osiriana; by which they intended to signify "gone to 
Osiris." Their belief in One Supreme Being, and the im- 
mortality of the soul, must have been very ancient; for 
on a monument, which dates ages before Abraham, is found 
this epitaph : "May thy soul attain to the Creator of all 
mankind." Sculptures and paintings in these grand re- 
ceptacles of the dead, as translated by Champollion, repre- 
sent the deceased ushered into the world of spirits by 
funeral deities, who announce, " A soul arrived in 
Amenti !" Forty two Assessors of the Dead presided over 
the forty-two sins to which Egyptians believed human 
beings were subject. Each of these assessors in turn 
question the spirit that has just parted from its body: 
" Have you blasphemed ? Have you stolen sacred property? 
Have you lied? Have you been licentious? Have you 
shaken your head at the words of truth ?" (meaning, "Have 
you been sceptical ?") Thoth produces the Book of Life, \ 
on which he has recorded the moral life of this soul. The 
symbols of his actions are put in scales of Thmei, Goddess 
of Truth and Justice, "who weighs hearts in the balance ; 
no sinner escapes her." These records are presented to 
Osiris the Judge, and if they are favourable, he raises his 
sceptre as a signal to pass into the abodes of the blest. 
Little is now known concerning the nature of the happiness 
supposed to be in those regions. It is mentioned that 
Osiris ordered the names of some souls to be written on 
the Tree of Lifk the fruit of which made those who ate it 
to become as gods. Rather more is known concerning the 
nature and degrees of punishment. They believed there 


"were three zones for the residence of souls. The lowest 
was this earth, a zone of trial ; the second was the zone of 
the air, perpetually convulsed by winds and storms, a place 
of temporary punishment ; the third and highest was an 
ethereal zone of rest and peace. In several of the sculptures 
there are indications of punishment by transmigration into 
inferior forms. Spineto speaks of one, where, on a flight 
of steps, which formed a communication between Amenti 
and the world, the deceased was represented in the form 
of a dog, with his tail between his legs, striving to escape 
from the god Anubis, who was driving him back to this 
world. Harriet Martineau thus describes another which 
she examined : "A hopeless-looking pig, with a bristling 
back, was in a boat, the stern of which was toward the 
heavenly regions. Two monkeys were with it, one at the 
bow, the other whipping or driving the pig. This was a 
wicked soul sent back to earth under the conduct of the 
agents of Thoth. The busy and gleeful look of the monkeys, 
and the humbled aspect of the pig were powerfully given. 
This was the lowest state of the punished soul ; but it would 
have to pass through some very mournful ones, and for a 
very long time ; to be probably a wolf, scorpion, kite, or 
some other odious creature, in weary succession." 

In some of these monuments, the deceased is represented 
with a chain round his neck, led by a procession of Spirits, 
each with a star over his head. Progressive states of the 
soul, after it leaves this lower zone, are indicated by a 
series of twelve small apartments, the entrance of each 
guarded by a Serpent, with his name over him, and the 
inscription, "He dwells above this great door, and opens 
it to the God Sun." According to Champollion, one series 
of these abodes bear this inscription : " These hostile souls 
see not our god when he casts the rays from his disk ; they 
no longer dwell in the terrestrial world ; and they hear not 
the voice of the great god, when he traverses their zones." 
Over another series is written : "These have found grace 
in the eyes of the Great God. They dwell in the abodes 
of glory ; those in which the heavenly life is led. The 

EGYPT. 161 

bodies which they have abandoned will repose forever in 
their tombs, while they will enjoy the presence of the 
Supreme God." 

Egyptians considered their own country as peculiarly 
privileged, and set apart from others. They called it "The 
Pure Land ;" " Region of Justice and Truth." They were 
extremely courteous to foreigners in all things unconnected 
with religious scruples ; but they considered it unclean to 
eat or drink with them. They were more partial to the 
Grecians than any other nation, but they deemed it pollu- 
tion to kiss a Greek, or touch the knife with which he cut 
his food, or to use any of his cooking utensils; because 
Greeks were accustomed to eat the beef of cows, the most 
sacred of all animals in Egypt. It is recorded in the 
Hebrew Scriptures that when the brethren of Joseph were 
invited to eat, "they set on for him by himself, and for them 
by themselves, and for the Egyptians by themselves ; because 
the Egyptians may not eat bread with the Hebrews ; for 
that is an abomination unto them." Though Joseph was 
so high in favour with Pharaoh, he was excluded by the 
same custom which now prevents wealthy Hindoos from- 
dining at the same table with their British governors. 

The idea of successive grades of emanations from the 
Deity introduced a distinction of castes into Egypt, as it 
did in Hindostan. Priests and kings were believed to have 
emanated before labourers, who, on account of being further 
removed from the Divine Source of Being, were supposed 
to have received a smaller and more attenuated influence 
of his Pure Spirit. Priests, warriors, and labourers con- 
stituted the principal castes ; but the latter were subdivided 
into various classes. Fishermen, and those who tended 
herds and flocks, were among the lowest. The caste of 
swine-herds was the most despised, and their situation seems 
to have been similar to the wretched Pariahs of Hindo'stan. 
They were not allowed to enter the temples, to come in 
contact with the priests, or to hold any communication with 
the higher castes. They were obliged to live in places set 
apart for them, and it was pollution to touch any vessel 
Vol. I.— 14* 


they had used. Egyptians supposed that Evil Spirits, and 
the souls of impure men, entered into swine, which they 
regarded as the most unclean of all animals. The higher 
castes had great horror of tasting the flesh, and if they hap- 
pened to touch the creatures, even by accident, they went 
through religious purifications to cleanse themselves from 
pollution. They were, however, necessary ; for when they 
sowed their lands, soaked by inundation of the Nile, herds 
of swine were driven over the fields, to trample the seed 
into the earth. Because they thus assisted the Fructifying 
Principle, a hog was annually sacrified to Osiris in every 
house. The soul imprisoned in the pig, for punishment, 
expiated its sins by being sacrificed : thus a debt of gratitude 
was paid to the animal. 

In addition to pride of caste, there were other reasons 
for Egyptian prejudice against shepherds. Their policy 
was opposed to the nomadic life, which they knew was 
fatal to the progress of civilization ; therefore, the descend- 
ants of Jacob were required to settle in one territory, which 
would lead to the necessity of building towns. They had, 
moreover, a strong national animosity to wandering herds- 
men, in consequence of what they had suffered by the ir- 
ruption of Pali, or Shepherds, from the East. The monarchs, 
who compelled them to toil in building the great pyramids, 
were of that odious race. Herodotus says they had such an 
extreme aversion to their memory, that they avoided men- 
tioning them, and called their pyramids by the name of a 
shepherd who fed his cattle in those places. Thus there was 
a threefold reason why Joseph should say, " Shepherds are 
an abomination unto the Egyptians." They made a dis- 
tinction in favour of their own herdsmen, who tended cattle 
connected with agricultural pursuits in their villages. Such 
men, though humble in rank, were not detested like tribes 
of roving shepherds. To a certain degree, they were cared 
for by the priests, who prescribed such food for them as 
they deemed suitable ; bread made of bran, fish, the flesh 
of some few animals, and barley-beer for drink. 

Circumcision, being closely connected with their ideas of 

EGYPT. 163 

health and cleanliness, was another barrier between Egyp- 
tians and foreigners. It is said Pythagoras was obliged to 
conform to this custom before he could gain admission to their 
religious Mysteries, and that he nearly died in consequence. 
Herodotus says : "As this practice can be traced, both in 
Egypt and Ethiopia, to the remotest antiquity, it is not 
possible to say which first introduced it. The Phoenicians 
and the Syrians of Palestine acknowledge that they bor- 
rowed it from Egypt. Male children, except in those 
places which have borrowed the custom from hence, are 
left as nature formed them." Sir J. Gr. Wilkinson says : 
" That this custom was established long before the arrival 
of Joseph in Egypt is proved by the ancient monuments." 
The Egyptian states, like their Ethiopian ancestors at 
Meroe, were originally governed by priests only. Each 
district had a High Priest, who reigned in the name of 
some god, and had subordinate priests under him. The 
caste of warriors afterward raised themselves to the royal 
dignity, and Menes was the first king. But though the 
rulers were thenceforth from the military caste, the priests 
kept them in almost complete dependence. They were 
not allowed to administer punishments according to their 
own will, or judgment, but in conformity to laws which 
the gods had prescribed through the medium of priests. 
They had constant supervision over affairs of the State and 
the army ; they made daily regulations concerning religious 
ceremonies to be performed by the royal household, and 
even concerning the food upon their tables. None but the 
sons of High Priests were allowed to be in attendance 
upon the king's person. Before he could be anointed, he 
was required to enter the priesthood, and be initiated into 
their religious mysteries. He was called Phra, which sig- 
nifies of the Sun. In this manner was indicated the divine 
origin of government, and the universal and equal benefi- 
cence which ought to characterize it. The hieroglyphic 
title of kings was " Son of the Sun." Phra, which we call 
Pharaoh, was applied to all their monarchs as the title of 
Czar is to the Emperor of Eussia ; hence, it is often difn- 


cult to ascertain which particular Pharaoh is meant on the 
monumental records. 

Not only was the priest caste generally hereditary, but 
also the priesthood of each particular deity ; and in each 
of these orders the High Priesthood descended lineally in 
some particular family. The son of a priest at Memphis 
could not become a member of the college of priests at 
Heliopolis, and a priest at Thebes could not join the sacer- 
dotal order at Memphis. This arose from the fact that 
each temple had large landed property attached to it, to 
defray the expenses of religious service. The revenues 
were drawn by priests, and transmitted to their posterity 
as a perpetual inheritance. These extensive estates were 
let out to the subordinate castes, and the rents formed a 
treasury for the common use of the sacerdotal order be- 
longing to the temple. From this fund, priests and their 
families were supplied with free tables. In addition to 
this fixed income, there were the daily sacrifices and offer- 
ings of fruit and grain at the temples ; they also carried 
on many profitable branches of business, in consequence 
of being the only depositories of such knowledge as ex- 
isted. Herodotus says : " So many dishes were furnished 
daily of those kinds of meat which their laws allowed them 
to eat, and a certain quantity of wine ; for they had the 
privilege of enjoying that luxury, which was forbidden to 
the lower castes. Thus there was no need for them to 
contribute anything from their private means toward their 
own support." The priestly families were in fact the high- 
est and wealthiest in the country, except the king. They 
were exempted from taxation, and it is said that one-third 
of the land of Egypt was allotted to them. When Joseph 
bought up the lands, it is recorded that he left the portion 
of the priests untouched. The places of interment be- 
longed to them, and as the use of them was paid for, they 
must have been sources of considerable emolument. 

As the civil law was included in the Sacred Books, 
priests were the only judges. The Chief Judge, who was 
also High Priest, wore a golden chain on which was sus- 

EGYPT. 165 

pended an image of Thmei, Groddess of Truth and Justice, 
graven on a sapphire, and set round with precious stones 
of various colours. He pronounced his decision by touch- 
ing the successful applicant with this figure. Several 
representations of these breast-plates are extant in Euro- 
pean museums, or to be seen on Egyptian monuments. 
Some of them contained two figures, an image of Ka, the 
Sun, and of Thmei; the signification being Light and 
Truth, or Light and Justice. 

Priests were also the only physicians. They prescribed 
the articles of food to be used by each class of people; 
and according to the testimony of Herodotus the Egyptians 
were remarkably healthy. Each part of the body was 
believed to be under the especial care of some particular 
deity, who must be invoked, with prescribed offerings and 
ceremonies, in case of disease. Invalids were carried to 
the temples, and it was supposed they would be cured, if 
the priest laid his hands on them, and recited appropriate 
prayers. They probably had some knowledge valuable 
for the preservation and restoration of health; for their 
medical schools became renowned. There are indications 
that some of their remedies were of a magnetic nature. 
Solon, who had been in Egypt, says, " Touching with the 
hands will immediately restore health." iEschylus, the 
famous Greek poet, makes one of his characters in the 
tragedy of Prometheus say, when speaking of the shores 
of the Nile, " There Jupiter Amnion will render you sane, 
stroking you with gentle hand, and simply touching you." 
A high degree of cleanliness, both in person and clothing, 
was a distinguishing characteristic of the ancient Egyp- 
tians ; habits which they doubtless owed to the instructions 
of their priests. 

As all the sciences were deemed direct revelations from 
the gods, a degree of sacredness was attached to knowl- 
edge, of which we in modern times can form no idea. 
Such learning as the priests had, manifested itself in results 
which seemed to the uninitiated like divination and magic. 
Perhaps they themselves, with the scanty information of 


that time, and their reverential Egyptian tendencies, 
thought many things miraculous, which to us would 
appear very simple. Whether they were honest or not, 
in assuming to be supernaturally gifted, the people most 
devoutly believed they had magical power to bring birds 
from the air at their bidding, to lure serpents from their 
hiding-places, to cast out Evil Spirits, and cure the dis- 
eases. They placed the utmost reliance on their interpre- 
tation of dreams, their predictions from the aspect of the 
stars, and the prophecies they made from examining the 
entrails of victims sacrificed to the gods. 

There were many gradations of rank among the priest- 
hood. Those devoted to the service of the great gods 
were regarded with far more veneration than those who 
attended upon minor and local deities. Some were distin- 
guished above others by their vocation. There were 
bands of Musicians among them, trained to chant the 
hymns, to sing in chorus, to perform on harps, flutes, and 
a ringing instrument called the sistrum. The skilful 
among these were held in much honour. But the Prophets 
were the highest class of priests. On public occasions, 
they took precedence of all others, except the High Priests 
of the great temples. They made astronomy their pecu- 
liar study. They knew the figure of the earth, and how 
to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. From very ancient 
time, they had observed the order and movement of the 
stars, and recorded them with the utmost care. Ramses 
the Great, generally called Sesostris, is supposed to have 
reigned one thousand fire hundred years before the Chris- 
tian era, about coeval with Moses, or a century later. In 
the tomb of this monarch was found a large massive circle 
of wrought gold, divided into three hundred and sixty- 
five degrees, and each division marked the rising and 
setting of the stars for each day. This fact proves how 
early they were advanced in astronomy. In their great 
theories of mutual dependance between all things in the 
universe was included a belief in some mysterious relation 
between the Spirits of the Stars and human souls ; so that 

EGYPT. 167 

the destiny of mortals was regulated by the motions of 
the heavenly bodies. This was the origin of the famous 
system of Astrology. From the conjunction of planets at 
the hour of birth, they prophesied what would be the 
temperament of an infant, what life he would live, and 
what death he would die. Diodorus, who wrote in the 
century preceding Christ, says, "They frequently foretell 
with the greatest accuracy what is about to happen to 
mankind ; showing the failure or abundance of crops, and 
the epidemic diseases about to befal men or cattle. Earth- 
quakes, deluges, rising of comets, and all those phenomena, 
the knowledge of which appears impossible to common 
comprehensions, they foresee by means of their long-con- 
tinued observations." Plato informs us that they believed 
this earth had been, and would be, subject to destruction 
by water and fire ; and that the tradition of Phaeton's^ 
having borrowed the chariot of the sun, and set the world 
in flames, contained an historical fact in a fabulous form. 
The returns of such catastrophes were fixed by them 
according to the period of their Great Astronomical Year, 
when the sun, moon, and all the planets returned to the 
same sign in the zodiac whence they had started. This 
astronomical cycle included ages in its revolution. In its 
winter occurred a universal deluge, and in its summer, a 
conflagration of the world. After this destruction, they 
believed all "things would be renewed, to pass through 
another succession of changes. 

In early times, priests lived with great simplicity. 
Sometimes they slept on the bare ground, sometimes on 
mats spread on frames of wicker-work, with a half cylinder 
of wood for a pillow. They married but one wife, and she 
was often their sister, on account of the prevailing idea that 
such marriages were fortunate. They ate very plain food 
in stated quantities. In very ancient times, the priests, 
including kings, used no wine; but in later times, a 
moderate portion, prescribed by law, was dealt to them. 
Their diet was strictly regulated, so careful were they that 
" the body should sit light upon the soul." Peas, leeks, 


garlic, onions, fish, and salt were forbidden. Pork was 
their abhorrence, and they had such an aversion to beans 
that they would not even touch them, or allow them to be 
sown in Egypt. Their cleanliness was extreme. They 
shaved their heads, and every three days shaved their 
whole bodies. They bathed two or three times a day, 
often in the night also ; and the most devout among them 
used water consecrated to the sacred bird Ibis. They wore 
garments of white linen, deeming it more cleanly than 
cloth made from the hair of animals. If they had occasion 
to wear a woollen cloak or mantle, they put it off before 
entering a temple ; so scrupulous were they that nothing 
impure should come into the presence of the gods. 

There were no priestesses in Egypt, but women were 
devoted to the service of the temple, the same as in 
Hindostan, to perform in sacred music and dances, gather 
fresh flowers for the altars, and feed the consecrated 
animals. The office was deemed so honourable, that it was 
reserved for the wives and daughters of kings and priests. 
The sculptures often represent them assisting in religious 
ceremonies, or playing on musical instruments in proces- 
sions to the temple. 

Oracles were frequently delivered by women. The 
daughter of Sesostris is said to have been so skilled in 
divination, that she foretold to her father his future brilliant 
success. The monarch, being himself a priest, had access 
to all their secret sciences; nevertheless, his conduct on 
important occasions was much influenced by her predic- 
tions. Her prophecies were noted and respected in the 
temple itself. 

Oracles were of very remote date. The most ancient 
was the oracle of Amun at Meroe. There was a very 
celebrated one at the temple of Amun in Thebes. It was 
consulted by many nations, and great reliance was placed 
upon its authority. The divine gift was supposed to be 
imparted to a woman consecrated to the service of the 
deity. She slept in the temple where Amun Ra was 
believed also to be present. Oracles were supposed to be 

EGYPT. 169 

revealed by dreams in the temples of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. 
Apis was sometimes consulted. A coin was deposited on 
his altar, with certain ceremonies and invocations, and the 
first words, or exclamations, heard afterward were deemed 
prophetic. In fact, oracles seem to have been the main- 
spring, that regulated all the machinery of the state. 

The reverential tendencies of the Egyptians are mani- 
fested in all memorials of their public and private life. The 
indications of it often show a tendency to excess ; probably 
the result of a fervid African temperament. At some of 
their religious festivals, the people abandoned themselves 
to the most tumultuous joy; and the number of their 
expiatory sacrifices show a tendency to the extremes of 
penitence. Their kings dwelt in temple-palaces, full of 
sacred emblems and statues of the gods. No nation ever 
surpassed them in the grandeur of religious festivals. After 
a great victory, the king went up to the temple with his 
whole army to give thanks. Harps, flutes, and the shrill 
ring of the sistrum, accompanied the chorus of sacred 
singers, clapping their hands to mark the rhythm. The 
king rode in a splendid chariot, followed by trains of cap- 
tives. The priests, in fringed robes of linen, carried 
banners, shrines, and other sacred emblems. The proces- 
sion closed with men leading animals for sacrifice, and 
women carrying incense and flowers. Through long 
avenues of colossal sphinxes and gigantic statues, they 
marched up to the temple. The troops drew up in files 
outside, and when the trumpet announced that the king and 
priests were offering sacrifice within, they worshipped in 
regular succession at altars provided for them. They hailed 
the New Moon and the Full Moon with religious honours, 
and most of their great festivals occurred at those periods. 
At Spring time and Harvest they had joyful processions 
of thanksgiving, leading their children in bands to the 
temple, with sheaves and flowers for offerings. The Nile 
was as sacred to them as Ganges to the Hindoos. There 
is a tradition that in ancient times they had the same cus- 
tom of offering to the god of the stream a virgin richly 
Vol. I. — 15 h 


dressed. At a later period, an image of wax was thrown 
into the river, instead of the human victim. When foreign 
kings married their princesses, it was customary to send 
them water from the Nile, however great the trouble or 
expense might be. At the annual rising of the river, the 
priests went in grand procession, to strew it with lotus- 
blossoms, and chant hymns in its praise. They burned 
frankincense to the Sun, at its rising, meridian, and setting, 
and offered to it solemn sacrifices on the fourth day of 
every month. They carried offerings to the temples in 
token of gratitude for recovery from sickness. They 
seated an image of the dead at their banquets, to remind 
them of their own mortality. They built their tombs with 
upper apartments richly sculptured and painted. There 
the priests went on stated occasions to perform religious 
ceremonies, accompanied by relatives bringing offerings to 
the departed, not to his mortal remains, but to the portion 
of divinity that was in him, and had gone elsewhere. They 
consecrated the very rocks with which their sacred edifices 
were to be built. They dedicated each month and each 
day to the service of some particular deity. Their ancient 
attitude of worship was sitting with the thighs resting on 
the heels. Many of the statues were in this position. The 
sculptures represent kings and priests worshipping with 
hands uplifted before their faces, the palms turned toward 
the deity. Their common oblations were wine, oil, meal, 
cakes, turtle-doves, young pigeons, fruit, flowers, vases, 
jewels, or whatever they had vowed. On important occa- 
sions they burned incense and sacrificed red bullocks. If 
a single black hair was found on the animal, or if every 
hair did not grow in its natural and proper form, the priest 
rejected it; but if he found it without blemish, he put his 
seal upon it. Wine was poured on the altar, a fire kindled 
thereon, and the god solemnly invoked. Then they cut 
the head from the victim, saying : " If there be any evil to 
come upon any part of Egypt, may it light on this head." 
On account of this custom, no Egyptian would eat the 
head of a beast. If there were Greeks in the market, it was 

EGYPT. 171 

sold to them ; if not, it was thrown into the river. The 
entrails of the victim were taken out and consulted bj the 
priests for auguries. The legs, shoulders, and loins were 
cut off for food, and the body was burned as an offering, 
after being stuffed with bread, honey, figs, raisins, and 
various aromatics. On some occasions, the spectators 
scourged themselves while it was burning. The priests 
commenced the sacrifice after a fast, and finished by feast- 
ing on the portions set apart for them. 

There was a grand celebration, called the Feast of Lamps, 
held at Sais, in honour of Neith. Those who did not at- 
tend the ceremony, as well as those who did, burned lamps 
before their houses all night, filled with oil and salt ; thus 
all Egypt was illuminated. It was deemed a great irrever- 
ence to the goddess for any one to omit this ceremony. 

At Bubastis was an annual festival in honour of its pre- 
siding goddess. It was probably connected with some 
holy object of pilgrimage ; for people flocked to it from all 
parts of the country. It sometimes brought together a 
concourse of " seven hundred thousand men and women, 
not to mention children." The Nile, overspread with 
highly ornamented barges, resembled a floating city, and 
the air resounded with choruses and musical instruments. 
When these companies approached a city, they landed to 
frolic and bandy jests with those on shore. The women 
danced, played on musical instruments, and sometimes 
threw aside all their garments. 

In autumn, they had mournful processions in search of 
the lost Osiris, weeping and lamenting as they went. One 
of the ceremonies was to lead the Sacred Cow seven times 
round the temple. From the astronomical character of 
their worship, it is a natural inference that the circuits 
round the temple, indicated the passage of the sun through 
the seven signs of the zodiac. When the genial warmth 
of spring returned, they had joyful processions, exulting 
over Osiris found. 

The twenty-fifth day of December was a festival in honour 
of the birth-day of Horus. The commemoration of that 


day, both, in ancient Hindostan and ancient Egypt, was 
probably owing to the fact that the sun at that period 
begins to return from the winter solstice. 

Of all their religious festivals, none were so grand and 
solemn as those consecrated to Osiris and Isis, called the 
Greater and Lesser Mysteries. Little is known of them, on 
account of the profound secresy with which they were ob- 
served, and the penalty of death which awaited any one 
who should divulge them. None but priests were initiated, 
until the later times, and then the exceptions were very 
rare. The honour of ascending to the Greater Mysteries 
was difficult to attain, and very highly appreciated. Even 
a prince could not approach them until he had entered the 
priesthood ; and not all the priests were admitted. The 
candidates must be of unsullied moral character, and go 
through a long process of study and purification. When 
initiation commenced, they were required to prepare them- 
selves by long fasts, and to undergo a series of very severe 
ordeals, during which they were required to manifest the 
most perfect obedience and resignation. The blazing suns 
at midnight, fiery serpents, visions of the gods, and other 
splendid and sublime pageantry employed during the cele- 
bration of these Mysteries, are supposed to have been sym- 
bolical of the origin of the soul, its fall to earth, its travels 
through successive spheres, and final return to its home of 
tranquil glory. Some of the ceremonies and hymns to the 
gods, said to have been immodest, doubtless originated in 
their mystical ideas concerning the masculine and feminine 
principles that pervade the universe ; ideas little likely to 
be rightly understood or appreciated, when viewed through 
the medium of modern habits of thought. 

In all the religious observances of Egypt, the priests 
alone understood the meaning of what they witnessed ; for 
great care was taken to hide theological theories under a 
thick veil of mysterious emblems. They had moreover 
two sets of written characters. One, called the sacred or 
sacerdotal writing, was a concise abridgment of the hiero- 
glyphics, applied to all religious and scientific- subjects, 

EGYPT. 173 

and known only to the priests. Another, called the epis- 
tolary or common style, was used for social and commercial 
purposes, and taught only to priests and merchants. If 
the names of deities occurred, they were always expressed 
by symbolic characters, not by the letters which formed 
the name ; it being deemed irreverent to write them like 
other words. Champollion says the name of their princi- 
pal deity was pronounced by sounds which expressed the 
written symbol, and were quite different from the holy 
name itself. 

The laws of Egypt were handed down from the earliest 
times, and regarded with the utmost veneration as a por- 
tion of religion. Their first legislator represented them as 
dictated by the gods themselves, and framed expressly for 
the benefit of mankind by their secretary Thoth, usually 
called Hermes. "An idea," says Diodorus, "adopted with 
success by many other lawgivers, who have thus insured 
respect for their institutions." By Thoth, the priests 
doubtless understood merely the agency of intellect in 
producing laws, but the people took it literally. 

The Sacred Books of Hermes, containing the laws, 
science, and theology of Egypt, they declared to have 
been all composed during the reign of the gods, preceding 
that of their first king Menes. Allusions on very ancient 
monuments prove their great antiquity. There were four 
of them, and the subdivisions of the whole made forty -two 
volumes. These numbers correspond exactly to those of 
the Yedas, which the Pouranas of Hindostan inform us 
were carried into Egypt by the Yadavas. The subjects 
treated of were likewise extremely similar; but whether 
the Books of Hermes were copies of the Yedas, it is now 
impossible for the learning of man to discover. They 
were deposited in the inmost holy recesses of the temples, 
and none but the higher order of priests were allowed to 
read them. They were carried reverently in all great 
religious processions. The Chief Priests carried ten vol- 
umes relating to the emanations of the gods, the formation 
of the world, the divine annunciation of laws and rules 
Vol. L— 15* 


for the priesthood. The Prophets carried four, treating of 
astronomy and astrology. The leader of the sacred mu- 
sical band carried two, containing hymns to the gods, and 
maxims to guide the conduct of the king; which the 
Chanter was required to know by heart. Such was the 
reputed antiquity and sanctity of these Egyptian hymns, 
that Plato says they were ascribed to Isis, and believed to 
be literally ten thousand years old. Servitors of the tem- 
ple carried ten volumes more, containing forms of prayer, 
and rules for burnt-offerings, sheaf-offerings, fruit-offerings, 
festivals and processions. The other volumes treated of 
philosophy and sciences, including anatomy and medicine. 
These books were very famous in their day, and gave rise 
to theories of astrology and alchemy, by which people, 
even on the borders of our own time, have sought to 
foretell destiny from the aspect of the stars, and make gold 
by some mysterious chemical process. The Roman em- 
peror Severus collected all writings on their Mysteries, 
and buried them in the tomb of Alexander the Great ; and 
Diocletian destroyed all their books on alchemy, lest 
Egypt should become too rich to remain tributary to the 
Roman empire. The once world-renowned Books of 
Hermes have been lost these fifteen hundred years. Euse- 
bius, Bishop of Csesarea, who flourished about three hun- 
dred years after Christ, says these volumes contained the 
question, " Have you not been informed that all individual 
souls are emanations from the One Soul of the Universe ?" 
Jamblichus, a celebrated Platonic philosopher of nearly 
the same period, gives the following extract from one of 
these books : " Before all things that essentially exist, and 
before the principles of all things, there existed One God, 
immoveable in the solitude of his unity. He is established 
self-begotten, the only Father, who is truly good. He is 
the fountain of all things, the root of all primary intelli- 
gible existing forms. Out of this One, the self-ruling God 
made himself shine forth ; wherefore, he is the father of 
himself, and self-ruling ; for he is the First Principle and 
God of gods. This Indivisible One is venerated in si- 

EGYPT. 175 

lence." These extracts resemble portions of the Vedas, 
but it is doubtful whether they are authentic; for at that 
late period spurious books of Hermes were extant. That 
the doctrine of One Supreme Being was taught by the 
more enlightened of the ancient priests, together with 
other ideas far more elevated than the external worship 
indicated, seems not to admit of doubt. Plutarch, who 
wrote in the first century of our era, says : " The end of 
all the Egyptian rites and mysteries was the knowledge 
of that First (rod, who is the Lord of all things, to be dis- 
cerned only by the mind. Their theology had two mean- 
ings ; the one holy and symbolical, the other vulgar and 
literal ; consequently, the figures of animals, which they 
had in their temples, and which they seemed to adore, 
were only so many hieroglyphics, to represent the divine 
attributes." Damascius, a Platonic philosopher of the fifth 
century, says : " The Egyptian philosophers of our time 
have declared as a hidden truth, found in their ancient 
writings, that there was One Principle of all things, 
praised under the name of the Unknown Darkness, and 
that thrice repeated." When the French army were in 
Egypt, they brought to light an important roll of papyrus 
written in hieroglyphics. It treated of the transmigration 
of souls, and ceremonies in honour of the dead. The 
soul on its long journey through the celestial gates, from 
sphere to sphere, is described as giving utterance to con- 
fessions, invocations, and prayers. The first fifteen 
chapters form a separate whole, with the general super- 
scription, " Here begin the sections of the glorifications 
in the light of Osiris." This papyrus was found in the 
tombs of the kings of Thebes. It bears traces of having 
been compiled at different periods ; but the learned Lepsius 
says the original plan unquestionably belongs to the re- 
motest age. He dates the writing one thousand five or six 
hundred years before the Christian era, and says it is 
doubtless a fragment of the Sacred Books ascribed to 

The Pantheistic idea that a portion of God is in every 


creature, and belief in the transmigration of human souls 
into animals, produced effects similar to those in Hindostan. 
Egyptian priests had a great horror of blood. They never 
shed it except in sacrifices to the gods, and that only upon 
very important occasions. Herodotus says : " The Egyp- 
tians put no cattle to death ;" and he informs us that ves- 
sels were kept to convey away the bones of those that died, 
and bury them in an island appropriated to that purpose. 
Why some animals were worshipped, and others not, and 
why some of the favoured ones should have been the least 
sagacious or agreeable of beasts, was perhaps known to 
themselves and the Hindoos, but is likely to remain an 
unsolved riddle for us. In their complicated system of an 
eternal relation between all things in the universe, each 
deity had certain stars, plants and animals, mysteriously 
allied to him, and under his peculiar protection. Thus the 
Cow and the Lotus were sacred to Isis ; the Ball and the 
fragrant blossom of the Golden Bean were sacred to Osiris. 
Each of the genii presiding over the signs of the zodiac 
had some plants or animals under his especial care. If we 
understood their system, we might perhaps discover why 
constellations are represented in the shape of animals, and 
why the Earn of Amun, the Bull of Osiris, and the Goat 
of Kham, mark successive signs in the zodiac. In some 
such way, animals were first introduced into the temple as 
emblems ; and afterward when mystical worship degener- 
ated into lifeless superstition, they adored the emblems as 
deities. Some of these animals were universally wor- 
shipped, others only in particular districts ; and some were 
more sumptuously provided for than others. Public 
buildings and parks, warm baths, carpets, rich furniture, 
and beautiful female companions of their own species, were 
procured for them. They were perfumed with fragrant 
oils and fed on dainties. To kill or maltreat them was the 
greatest crime, and when they died, they were embalmed 
and magnificently buried. Men and women were set 
apart to take charge of them. The office was hereditary, 
and considered crtremely honourable. When these func- 

EGYPT. 177 

tionaries passed through villages, with the sacred banners 
of the animals they served, people bowed to the ground 
before them. When children recovered from sickness, 
parents shaved their hair, and gave the weight of it in 
gold or silver for the support of those animals. Even in 
time of famine, when driven to eat human flesh, the popu- 
lace refrained from destroying any of these consecrated 
creatures. If they accidentally found one dead, they stood 
lamenting, and proclaiming with a loud voice that they 
found it so. When Cambyses, the Persian, invaded Egypt, 
he took advantage of their customs, and protected his 
army by a vanguard of sacred animals. 

Of all creatures the cow was held in the greatest venera- 
tion throughout Egypt. On great occasions, they sacrificed 
unblemished bulls or bullocks to the gods, but never 
heifers. Whoever killed one, even involuntarily, was 
punished with instant death. 

A Bull called Apis, supposed by some to represent the 
celestial bull of the zodiac, was inaugurated with many 
ceremonies, and worshipped by the people as a God. Op- 
posite the temple of Phtha, at Memphis, was a magnificent 
edifice where he was kept when publicly exhibited. The 
walls were richly sculptured, and the roof supported by 
colossal statues. He was generally seen only through the 
windows, but on some occasions he was led out into the 
vestibule, where his sacred mother was fed. He had ex- 
tensive parks for exercise, and the most beautiful cows for 
companions. His food was carefully regulated, and he 
drank from a clear fountain, because the water of the Nile 
was deemed too fattening. He had access to two stables. 
If he entered one it was a good omen ; if the other, it was 
an evil sign. If he ate readily, it was deemed fortunate 
for him who offered the food ; but if he rejected it, they 
foreboded calamity. Those who wished to consult his 
oracle, deposited a coin on his altar, with certain ceremo- 
nies ; and the first exclamation they heard afterward was 
deemed a voice from heaven for their guidance. They 
paid particular attention to the exclamations of little cbil- 



dren, especially if they were playing within the precincts of 
temples. It was supposed that children who smelled the 
breath of Apis received the gift of prophecy in a pre-emi- 
nent degree. At the annual rising of the Nile, a festival 
was held in commemoration of his birth. It continued 
seven days, and brought to Memphis a vast concourse of 
spectators. He was led through the city by priests in 
solemn procession, with troops of children singing hymns 
before him ; and as he passed, all the people came out to 
welcome him. A golden shell was thrown into the Nile, 
and crocodiles were said to be tame while the feast lasted ; 
probably because they received so much food. "Notwith- 
standing this extreme veneration, Apis was not allowed to 
survive twenty-five years. If he lived till that age, the 
priests drowned him in a fountain, and all the people 
mourned till a new Apis was found. This limitation of 
his existence is supposed to have reference to some period 
in their astronomical calculations. He was embalmed, and 
great sums were lavished on his funeral. In 1816, Belzoni 
discovered, among tombs excavated in the mountains near 
Thebes, a huge sarcophagus of purest oriental alabaster, 
transparent and sonorous, covered with beautiful sculp- 
tured ornaments and hieroglyphic inscriptions, within and 
without. It contained the embalmed body of a bull. 

When Apis was dead, the priests went in search of an 
animal to succeed him. The Sacred Books required that 
he should be black, with a white triangle on his forehead, 
a white crescent on his right side, and a bunch like a 
beetle under his tongue. When such a calf was found, it 
was said the cow conceived him by a ray from the sun. 
He was fed four months on milk, in a building facing the 
rising sun. At the end of the new moon, he was carried 
to Heliopolis in a richly gilded ship. There he was fed 
by women forty days. Thence he was conveyed with 
much pomp to his stately edifice at Memphis. The man 
from whose herd he was selected was deemed the most 
fortunate of mortals. 

When Cambyses conquered Egypt, having the Persian 

EGYPT 179 

horror of idols, lie defaced the statues of the gods, and 
stabbed Apis with his sword. Ochus, one of his succes- 
sors, served up Apis at a banquet, and put an Ass in the 
temple in his stead; for which outrage an Egyptian as- 
sassinated him and threw his body to the cats. Viewed 
calmly at this distance of time, the spirit manifested by one 
seems scarcely more commendable than that of the other. 

A variety of animals were venerated only in particular 
districts. Thebans abstained from sheep, because the ram 
was an emblem of their god Amun. They never put one 
to death, except on the annual festival of that deity, when 
they sacrificed a ram with many ceremonies, and placed 
the skin upon his image. At Mendes, the presiding deity 
was Kham, God of Generation, who was represented with 
the head of a she-goat, and the legs of a male ; therefore 
goats were sacred in that region. The god Anubis was 
represented with a dog's head. "Wherever his worship 
prevailed, the dog was sacred, and they shaved their heads 
in token of mourning when one died. In some places, 
apes and monkeys were sacred, being connected with the 
history of the god Thoth. At Heliopolis, they detested 
the crocodile and assigned it to Typho, the Destroyer ; but 
in the vicinity of Lake Moeris they worshipped the ugly 
creature. They kept a crocodile in a tank at the temple, 
and fed it with portions of the sacrifices. The priests, 
having rendered it perfectly tame by land treatment, 
adorned it with bracelets of gold and necklaces of artifi- 
cial gems. Worshippers brought offerings of bread and 
wine. In those districts they deemed it a mark of favour 
from the deity to be devoured by these monsters. A story 
is recorded of a woman who brought up a young crocodile, 
and her countrymen considered her the nurse of a divinity. 
Her little son played fearlessly with the beast, but when it 
grew large it devoured the boy. His mother exulted, con- 
sidering his fate peculiarly blest in being thus incorporated 
with the household god. In some places small serpents 
were kept in the temples, fed on honey and flour. It was 
considered a mark of clivine favour to be bitten by any 


of this species. At Bubastis they worshipped a goddess 
represented with the head of a cat ; and in that region cats 
were sacred. When one of them died, they shaved their 
eye-brows in sign of mourning. If a person killed one, 
even accidentally, a mob gathered round him and tore him 
to pieces without trial. When they went to foreign wars, 
they embalmed dogs and cats that died on the way, and 
brought them home for honourable burial. Belzoni found 
entire tombs filled with nothing but embalmed cats, care- 
fully folded in red and white linen, the head covered by a 
mask representing its face. 

Each district held to its own worship with the bigotry 
that everywhere characterizes disputes about religious faith. 
A civil war arose between two districts, because one ate 
the fish that the other worshipped. They did each other 
much mischief, and were severely punished by the Romans. 
The inhabitants of Ombos attacked those of Tentyris, 
because they had killed a crocodile ; and the war was car- 
ried on with all the fury of sectarian zeal. Joseph us de- 
clares that as early as the time when Abraham was in 
Egypt " they despised one another's sacred and accustomed 
rites, and were very angry one with another on that 
account." What theological tenets among the priests of 
different deities were at stake in these contentions cannot 
now be traced ; but the great resemblance existing between 
their religion and that of Hindostan naturally leads to the 
conclusion that similar causes were at work to produce 
similar effects. Doubtless they had their formalists and 
spiritualists, their atheists and fanatics. It is recorded that 
the people of Thebais paid divine honours to nothing in 
mortal form, but adored only Cneph. Plutarch says the 
inhabitants of that region, on account of their more spirit- 
ual worship of One Invisible God, "without beginning or 
end," were excused from paying the public taxes levied on 
other Egyptians for maintenance of the sacred animals. 
It may readily be conjectured that suoh sects, like the 
Yedantins of Hindostan, regarded with pity those minds 
which had need of images and external symbols. But 

EGYPT. 181 

elevated ideas of God and the soul were supposed to be 
above the comprehension of the populace, and incom- 
patible with their employments. The priests, who were 
the only educated class, feared that if such knowledge were 
revealed to them, they would pervert it by all sorts of 
ignorant misconceptions. Therefore, they were left to obey 
laws without knowing why they were ordained, and to ob- 
serve the ritual of religion without comprehending its 

Egyptians were conservative in the extreme. They had 
the greatest possible objection to introducing foreign cus- 
toms or opinions, or innovations of any kind. But they 
could not resist that law of our nature which has written 
decay, death, and resurrection, on all material things and 
all forms of opinion. The primitive faith of every people 
has always a tendency to degenerate into unmeaning forms ; | 
and the progress of corruption must be greatly accelerated * 
where religious ideas, studiously hidden from the people, 
become a monopoly of power in the hands of a privileged 
class. In the beginning, the priestly style of living was 
very simple, but what we afterward hear of their grand 
establishments indicates a change. During the last days, 
when Egypt became a province of Eome, we have means 
of knowing that many abuses crept in. Old mystical ideas 
were almost buried under a mass of grotesque fancies. The 
influence of the priests declined. They still had charge of 
the national records, the education of youth, and the super- 
intendence of weights and measures ; but they no longer 
swayed the councils of government, or presided in courts 
of justice. Their servility to wealth and power is implied 
by the fact that when Alexander the Great consulted the 
oracle at Thebes, his ambitious wishes were gratified by 
hearing himself declared the son of Jupiter Ammon. In 
such a state of things, the character of the deities became 
degraded, and the animals regarded as deities were some- 
times treated with contempt. If prayers and sacrifices 
proved unavailing to counteract drought, famine, or epi- 
demics, people reproached the gods, and insulted their 
Vol. T. — 16 


images. Priests conducted the sacred animals to dark 
places, where they terrified them with threats, and some- 
times even put them to death, if the evils continued. Still 
people clung to the outward ritual hallowed by so many 
ages of observance. The temples continued to swarm with 
animals, and images of animals, such as silver and brazen 
serpents, and gilded or golden calves. If a foreigner asked 
the meaning of their religious customs, the answer depended 
upon whether he addressed the initiated or the uninitiated ; 
and in either case it was likely to be coloured by sectional 
prejudice. To one whose education did not enable him to 
sympathize with the blind reverence of the populace, and 
who had no means of knowing that more spiritual miDds 
attached mystical significance to their strange symbols, the 
worship of Egypt must have seemed absurd in the extreme. 
No wonder it became a mark for the arrows of Grecian and 
Roman satire. It was common in Rome to call a foolish, 
pompous fellow "an Egyptian temple," which had such a 
magnificent exterior, and a monkey for the deity within. 
Thus every growth passes away, and dreary looks the 
stubble when the grain is gone. 

But it is necessary to remember that their faith was once 
a solemn reality to millions of men, whose minds it swayed 
for ages. Powerful indeed must have been the feeling, 
which prompted men to expend so much wealth, labour, 
and ingenuity, in the service of their gods. The effect pro- 
duced by their sublime temples on those sincerely under 
the influence of their national belief, may be partly con- 
jectured from the wonder and reverence their ruins still 
inspire in men of other religions and a distant age. Those 
who see drawings, or fragmentary specimens in museums, 
can form no idea of the general effect of their architecture. 
Deities wearing the heads of rams, hawks, and cows, seem 
uncouth and ridiculous to us, who attach no meaning to 
the emblems. There is moreover a want of perspective in 
Egyptian art, a monotonous straightness in the position of 
the figures, and a barbarous taste in their unharmonized 
masses of colour. Such was their respect for prescribed 

EGYPT. 183 

rules, that time and intercourse with other nations produced 
little change in these particulars. Plato, in his Republic, 
introduces the following remark in a dialogue : " The plan 
we have been laying down for youth was known long ago 
to the Egyptians ; that nothing but beautiful forms and fine 
music should be permitted to enter into the assemblies of 
young people. Having settled what those forms and that 
music should be, they exhibited them in their temples; 
nor was it lawful, either in painting, statuary, or any 
branches of music, to make any alteration, or invent any 
forms different from what were established. Upon ex- 
amination, therefore, you will find that the pictures and 
statues made ten thousand years ago, are in no one par- 
ticular better or worse than what they now make." 

But after all these deductions, the Egyptian ruins are 
not only sublime and impressive, but often extremely 
beautiful. Many of the sculptured animals are spirited, 
and all travellers agree that the countenances of gods and 
mortals are remarkable for simplicity, sweetness, and 
serenity of expression. Harriet Martineau says: "I was 
never tired of trying to imprint on my memory the char- 
acteristics of the old Egyptian face ; the handsome arched 
nose, with its delicate nostril; the well-opened, though 
long eye; the placid, innocent mouth, and the smooth- 
rounded,, amiable chin. Innocence is the prevailing 
expression, and sternness is absent. Thus the stiffest 
figures and the most monotonous gestures convey only an 
impression of dispassionateness and benevolence. The 
dignity of the gods and goddesses is beyond all description, 
from this union of fixidity and benevolence. If the traveller 
be blest with the clear eye and fresh mind, and be also en- 
riched by comprehensive knowledge of the workings of 
the human intellect in its various circumstances, he cannot 
but be impressed, and he may be startled by the evidence 
before him of the elevation and beauty of the first concep- 
tions formed by men of the Beings of the unseen world." 

The architecture of Egypt greatly resembles that of 
Hindostan. There are the same gigantic proportions, the 



same flat roofs of ponderous stone, supported by the same 
massive columns ; the same herculean labour in the ex- 
cavation of tombs and temples through the solid rock of 
everlasting hills, the same gloomy cavernous effect of the 
interior, the same colossal images, the same infinity of 
sculptured figures everywhere, painted in the same bright 

The ruins of Egyptian Thebes are well known as the 
most wonderful in the world. Its date ascends beyond 
the records of history. Homer celebrates it as " the city 
with a hundred gates ;" and he wrote nearly a thousand 
years before Christ. Existing monuments prove that it 
must have been in full glory more than three thousand 
years ago. Belzoni says : " The most sublime ideas that 
can be formed from the most magnificent specimens of our 
present architecture would give a very incorrect picture of 
these ruins. It appeared to me like entering a city of 
giants, who, after a long conflict, were all destroyed, leav- 
ing the ruins of their various temples as the only proofs 
of their former existence." The most celebrated of these 
structures is now universally known under the name 
of El Karnac. It faces the Nile, with which it is con- 
nected by an avenue a mile long, with gigantic sphinxes 
on each side all the way. Diodorus describes the walls 
as twenty-four feet thick, and a mile and a half in cir- 
cumference. They have twelve principal entrances, each 
composed of several towers and colossal gateways, beside 
other buildings attached to them, in themselves larger than 
most other temples. On each side of many of the towers 
are colossal statues, from twenty to thirty feet high. The 
large building, supposed to have been the royal palace, 
was built more than three thousand years ago, by Ramses 
the Great, commonly called Sesostris. It is entered 
through an open colonnade, and up an ascent of twenty- 
seven steps. These lead into a covered hall, so spacious 
that a large European church might stand within it. The 
ceiling, of unhewn blocks of stone, is sustained by one 
hundred and thirty -four columns, sixty-five feet high, and 

EGYPT. 185 

thirty in circumference. The whole hall, from top to bot- 
tom, is covered with sculptures relating to religious wor- 
ship. In several places an Ark is represented, as carried 
on poles, resting on the shoulders of priests, and followed 
by a procession of people. There are likewise branched 
candlesticks, tables with loaves of bread, and cherubim 
with extended wings. The number of these sculptures is 
so great that no one has been able to count them, much 
less to copy them. Another colonnade beyond leads to a 
succession of apartments covered with sculpture repre- 
senting domestic scenes, mixed with religious ceremonies. 
All these are painted in vivid colours, which still retain 
their brilliancy. The ceiling of the central room is painted 
blue, studded with constellations of stars. Denon says : 
" One is fatigued with writing, one is fatigued with read- 
ing, one is stunned with the thought of such a conception. 
It is hardly possible to believe in so much magnificence 
even after having seen it." The ancient existence of 
libraries is proved by these ruins. Champollion found on 
a doorway representations of Thoth and a feminine deity, 
who presided over arts, science, and literature. Above 
their heads were, " Lord of the Library," and " Lady of 
Letters," carved in hieroglyphics. Fragments from the 
History of the Greek Hecataeus inform us that he saw 
this grand edifice more than five hundred years before 
Christ. He says it then contained a library of Sacred 
Books, over the entrance of which was inscribed, " The 
Eemedy for the Soul." Near the palace is the great 
Temple of Karnac, one of the sublimest specimens of 
Egyptian architecture. It has a lofty magnificent gate- 
way, more than sixty-two feet high, of richly sculptured 
sandstone. This leads to a gallery of colossal rams, which 
indicate that the precincts were sacred to Amun, com- 
monly called Jupiter Amnion. The grandeur of the inte- 
rior corresponds to the external decorations. Heeren 
says: "This temple is without doubt one of the most 
ancient that now exist in Egypt, yet both this and the 
palace are built of materials taken from edifices more 
Vol. I.— 16* 


ancient still." Every year the statue of Amun was car- 
ried in solemn procession into Libya, over a space of nine 
or ten miles. Almost the entire road was lined with 
temples, colossal statues, and long avenues of gigantic 
sphinxes. Eichardson says : "It is impossible to conceive 
anything more impressive than the view which must 
have burst upon the sight of the enraptured votaries, 
when, at the close of the solemnity of bringing back their 
god, they entered the grand Temple of Karnac to replace 
him in his shrine, with harps and cymbals, and songs of 

About two miles from El Karnac is the great Temple of 
Luxor, supposed to have been built two centuries earlier. 
Here likewise deities are represented surmounted by the 
inscriptions, "Lord of the Divine Writings," and "Lady 
of Letters." Belzoni, describing this place, says : " The 
avenue of sphinxes leading to the great temple inspires the 
visitor with devotion, and their enormous size strikes him 
with wonder. Each side of the gate leading to the inner 
courts are seated immense colossal figures, as if guarding 
the entrance of the holy ground. Farther on is the mag- 
nificent temple dedicated to the Great God of Creation. I 
entered it alone. The sun was rising, and long shadows 
from groups of columns extended over the ruins, while 
rays of light struck on the masses in various directions, 
forming views that baffle all description. How can I 
describe my sensations ! I seemed alone in the midst of 
all that is most sacred in the world. A forest of enormous 
columns adorned all round, from top to bottom, with beau- 
tiful figures, and various ornaments ; the graceful shape of 
the Lotus, which forms their capitals ; the gates, walls, 
pedestals, everywhere adorned with symbolical figures, 
representing battles, processions, feasts, offerings, and 
sacrifices, all relating no doubt to the ancient history of 
the country ; the sanctuary formed of fine red granite, with 
various obelisks standing before it, proclaiming to the dis- 
tant passenger, 'Here is the seat of holiness;' the high 
portals seen from afar through the openings to this vast 

EGYPT. 187 

labyrinth of edifices ; the various groups of ruins of other 
temples within sight ; all these had such an effect upon my 
soul, as to separate me in imagination from the rest of 
mortals, exalt me on high over all, and cause me to forget 
the trifles and follies of life. My mind was impressed with 
such solemnity that for some time I was unconscious 
whether I was on terrestrial ground, or on some other 

In the vicinity of Thebes are wonderful excavations in 
the granite of mountains, similar to those described. at 
Ellora and Eiephanta, in Hindostan. Some are very ex- 
tensive, with winding stairs leading to small apartments in 
all directions. Some have deep shafts or wells, and at the 
bottom of the wells passages to smaller apartments, with 
endless winding recesses. In these cavernous depths are a 
multitude of colossal statues of all the gods. The various 
halls and chambers are covered with hieroglyphic writing 
and painted sculptures, the colours of which are still fresh 
and glowing. Here Belzoni discovered the alabaster sar- 
cophagus. Speaking of the apartment where it was found, 
Harriet Martineau says: "We enjoyed seeing the whole 
lighted up by a fire of straw. I shall never forget that 
gorgeous chamber in this palace of death. The rich colours 
on the walls were brought out by the flame ; and the won- 
derful ceiling, all starred with emblems, and peopled with 
countless yellow figures, was like nothing earthly." One 
priestly tomb in these excavations occupies an acre and a 
quarter of the heart of the rock. Here is the sepulchre of "1 
the Pharaoh who pursued the Hebrews into the Red Sea. ] 
" Five lines of tribute-bearers show how extensive was his 
dominion. They are of various costumes and complexions, 
bringing ivory, apes, leopards, gold, and among other 
offerings a bear ;" as if the extreme North also acknowledged 
his power. The faces of the Pharaohs on these monuments 
are likenesses. This carries back the art of portrait-sculp- 
ture into high antiquity. 

Memphis, much farther down the Nile, was founded by 
the first king Menes, who, all agree, must have lived between 


four and five thousand years ago; and some place him 
much earlier. Here was a magnificent temple to Phtha, 
which it took several generations of kings to complete. 
Many titles of this once famous city are found among the 
hieroglyphics ; such as, " The Abode of Good," " Land 
of the Pyramid," " The Habitation of Pthah." Here 
Abraham was a guest, and Sarai, his beautiful wife, was 
lodged in the palace of the king. Here Joseph rode 
through the streets in the royal chariot, clothed " with fine 
linen, and a chain of gold about his neck." The fine linen 
and the wrought gold show that even then Memphis was 
old in civilization. Here Moses was educated in the house- 
hold of Pharaoh, and became " learned in all "the wisdom 
of the Egyptians." There are now scarcely any remains 
of this mighty city ; but Abdallatif, a traveller from Bag- 
dad, thus describes it, as he saw it about seven hundred 
years ago : " The ruins occupy a space which is half a 
day's journey every way. As for the idols that are found 
among them, whether one considers their number, or their 
prodigious magnitude, it is a thing beyond all description, 
and of which no idea can be conveyed. But there is a 
thing yet more worthy of admiration ; and that is the pre- 
cision of their forms, the justness of their proportions, and 
their resemblance to nature." Speaking of the famous 
pyramids near the city, he says : " The stones are covered 
with writing, the import of which is at this day unknown. 
More than ten thousand pages of paper would be filled, if 
only the inscriptions seen on these two pyramids were 

It is now known that these huge monuments have stood 
more than four thousand years. It is proved to a certainty, 
from the hieroglyphics, that they were built, at the hast 
calculation, three hundred years before Abraham was born, 
and seven or eight hundred years before the time of Moses. 
In 1837 the name of the king who built the Great Pyramid 
was found written on the rough stones. He lived near the 
time of Menes, and is the Cheops to whom Herodotus attri- 
butes the construction of this vast pile. In his time, the 

EGYPT. 189 

outside was covered with writing, which Abdallatif says he 
saw as late as the twelfth century after our era. Unfortu- 
nately, before the attention of European scholars was drawn 
toward Memphis, the marble casing of the pyramids was 
destroyed, and the writing lost. But we cannot lose pos- 
session of the fact that in those very remote times Egyp- 
tians must have had wonderful machinery, graving tools, 
an alphabet, and a knowledge of writing. Among the 
multitude of tombs in this vicinity are some coeval with 
the pyramids. A hieroglyphic record in one of them de- 
clares that it was built for " Eimei, great priest of the habi- 
tation of king Shoophoo" (called Cheops by the Greeks). 
Inkstands and reed-pens are common among the emblems 
here. A papyrus is now in Europe, of the date of Shoo- 
phoo ; which proves alphabetic signs, and written docu- 
ments, and that kind of paper to have been in use when 
the Great Pyramid was built ; nearly a thousand years^/ 
before Moses was born. 

Herodotus declares the pyramids were built for sepul- 
chres ; and the learned now agree in opinion that for a 
long series of years every Egyptian monarch caused one 
of these royal tombs to be built for himself. The sarco- 
phagi found in them proves that they were used for burial- 
places ; but the immense size of some of them, the various 
chambers, the shafts or wells, and the deep subterranean 
passages, have led to various conjectures concerning the 
possibility of their being likewise used for other purposes. 
Some have supposed that great religious Mysteries were 
celebrated there. Mr. Wilford, during his residence in 
Hindostan, described the Great Pyramid to several learned 
Bramins. He says : " They at once declared it to have 
been a temple. One of them asked if it had not a com- 
munication under ground with the river Nile. When I 
mentioned that such a passage was said to have existed, and 
that a well was at this day to be seen, they unanimously 
agreed that it was a place appropriated to the worship of 
Padma Devi, and that on certain festivals her priests used 
to fill the trough with sacred water and lotus-blossoms." 


It has already been stated that it was a custom in Egypt 
for families, accompanied by priests, to visit the tombs of 
relatives at stated seasons, and offer oblations and prayers 
for the departed. Perhaps something of this kind might 
have been done on a scale of exceeding grandeur in the 
pyramids, for the royal ones whose bodies rested there. 

On the island of Elephantina, in the Nile, there is a great 
accumulation of columns, obelisks, portals, and two small 
temples, covered within and without with hieroglyphics, 
executed in a style of great excellence. Denon supposes 
these to belong to the earliest ages of Egypt of which any 
trace remains. At Edfu, on the Nile, are also remarkable 
structures of great antiquity ; but the temples in these and 
in other places are now discovered to be partly built of the 
ruins of other temples more ancient still. 

At Dendera are the remains of large temples, compara- 
tively modern. They were first discovered by Bonaparte's 
army, and are supposed to have been, erected nearly two 
thousand years ago. They are distinguished for lavishness 
of ornament, extraordinary beauty of execution, and bril- 
liancy of colouring. French writers say: "All that you 
see here, from the colossal statues of Isis to the smallest 
hieroglyphic, appears to have come from fairy-land." The 
soldiers declared with one voice that this sight alone was 
enough to indemnify them for all the fatigues of their 
campaign. On the ceiling of the principal temple was 
painted a zodiac, which attracted great attention among the 
astronomers of Europe. This and other Egyptian zodiacs 
gave rise to much controversy concerning the astronomical 
proof of antiquity they conveyed. In 1822 the police of 
Paris suppressed some Essays, which started theories at 
variance with the chronology of the Hebrew Scriptures. 
It is now generally decided by the learned that none of 
these zodiacs are much older than the Christian era. 

Captain Burr, of the British army, who went to Egypt 
with East India troops, was struck with the resemblance in 
costume and the manners represented, between the sculp- 
tures at Dendera and those he had seen in Hindostan. He 

EGYPT. 191 

came to the conclusion that "a closer connection must 
have formerly existed among the nations of the East, 
when they were yet united by the same worship." The 
Hindoo soldiers who accompanied him were filled with awe 
and amazement. They believed themselves to be in the 
presence of their own ancient deities, and were indignant 
at the neglect into which their worship had fallen. They 
exclaimed: "Surely Hindoos must have lived in this 
country!" Some thought the wonderful edifice might 
have been built by Eakshasas, or Evil Spirits ; that being 
the usual account given of Buddhist temples by the Bra- 

The ancient Egyptian temples were always of solid mas- 
sive stone, without cement, and enclosed by thick walls. 
In time of war they were used as fortifications, and places 
of refuge for the inhabitants. Vestiges of tanks, or ponds, 
for ablution, are generally found near them, and many of 
them have deep sockets, apparently used for flags on festi- 
val occasions. The entrance was a porch in form of a 
truncated pyramid, very grand and massive. Through 
this they passed into an open court surrounded with col- 
umns, with partition walls about half of their height. 
This outer court was probably intended for the people, 
where they might see the ceremonies and processions from 
a certain distance. Next to this came a portico, supported 
by rows of immense pillars. Through this they passed 
into vast saloons, three or four in succession, supposed to 
be intended for the religious processions and ceremonies 
which are pictured on the walls. At the extremity was a 
niche of granite or porphyry. This was the sanctuary, 
approached by none but the priests. Sometimes it con- 
tained the statue of the deity to whom the temple was 
dedicated ; sometimes an image of the Bull, Apis,, or some 
other sacred animal ; sometimes the Oracle Ship of Amun, 
in its shrine. In the great temples this Sacred Ship was 
often very magnificent. Sesostris presented one to the 
temple of Amun at Thebes, made of cedar, the inside 
lined with silver, and the outside covered with gold. 


Sometimes the sanctuary contained a shrine or Ark, sur- 
mounted by a small image overshadowed with wings , 
sometimes the wings of Isis, sometimes of the Goddess of 
Truth, sometimes of the sacred bird Ibis. On each side 
of the saloons were corridors, which led into apartments 
where the priests lived. The walls, columns, and ceilings, 
were covered with sculpture. The capitals of the pillars 
were generally composed of native plants ; Lotus leaves, 
and Palm branches, arranged in endless variety. The 
figures on the walls were usually in bold relief, represent- 
ing deities and their worshippers engaged in some religious 
ceremony. Near them were long explanatory inscriptions 
in hieroglyphics. All these sculptures were painted yellow, 
red, blue, green, and white. The colour of each deity, and 
of every other object, was established by rules, which ad- 
mitted of no deviation. Denon says : " An Egyptian tem- 
ple is, as it were, an open book, where science unfolds, 
where morality teaches, where the useful arts are set 
forth. Everything seems to speak ; all seems animated, 
and all in the same spirit. The doorposts, the most secret 
corners, give a lesson, or a rule ; and the whole is in most 
wonderful harmony." 

The Oracle Ship in its shrine, or the Ark overshadowed 
with wings, occur very frequently in all the sculptured 
representations of religious ceremonies. Sometimes the 
king is kneeling before it at his devotions ; sometimes he 
is coming toward it with an offering of frankincense. More 
frequently the priests carry it resting on long poles, sup- 
ported by their shoulders. They are followed by bands 
of men and women, dancing, singing, playing on musical 
instruments, and clapping their hands in cadence, as they 
approach the temple. Everywhere are emblems to remind 
the traveller of similar buildings on the banks of the 
Ganges. The beautiful water-lily called Lotus is repre- 
sented in every stage of growth. Deities are seated on a 
Lotus, crowned with Lotus, and carry a Lotus stem for a 
sceptre. In both countries it was an emblem of the gener- 
ative power, and of the creation of the world from water. 

EGYPT. 193 

Serpents are winding about the ceilings, or interwoven in 
rings, to represent vast astronomical cycles. There are 
serpents with the heads of deities, and serpents with the 
legs of human beings ; serpents winged, and serpents 
crowned. In both countries, this creature was the symbol 
of wisdom and immortality. Three was a mystical and 
significant number, and the Triangle is found in all their 
sacred places. Perhaps its three sides were a type of their 
Divine Triad, or Trinity, consisting of the masculine prin- 
ciple of the universe, the feminine principle, and the off- 
spring, or result, of the two. The Emblem of Life, so 
often found on Egyptian monuments, is explained by 
Sir J. Gr. Wilkinson as the union of the perpendicular 
line and the horizontal line, already mentioned as in 
use among Hindoos ; one being a representative of the 
masculine emblem of generation, the other of the femi- 
nine ; both together signifying the reproduction of life, or 
birth. It is surmounted by a ring, which is sometimes 
formed of eggs. This cross of Hermes, as it is called, is 
in various ways connected with the hieroglyphics of the 
planets, and is everywhere placed in the hands of deities, 
especially of Osiris. The sculptures often represent them 
offering it, with a cornucopia of fruit and grain, to kings 
at their inauguration ; perhaps to signify the bestowal of 
abundant harvests, numerous flocks, and many children. 
It was generally worn by the devout, and was considered 
an amulet of great virtue, a protection from Evil Spirits. 
When this Cross was twined with a Serpent, it was the 
emblem of Immortal Life. The Mundane Egg occurs often 
among the sculptures ; and so does an Eye to represent 
the all-seeing Osiris, and the Sun. There are apes and 
dwarfs looking pigmy and strange in the presence of 
colossal companions. The mysterious emblem called the 
Sphinx was much more frequently introduced in Egypt 
than in India. It is supposed to have been a royal emblem, 
manifesting their ideas of what a king ought to be. It 
had a lion's body with a man's head, or a ram's head ; 
perhaps to signify the union of physical strength with 
Vol. L— 17 i 


intellect in one case, and with innocence in the other* 
In these antiqne records of deceased generations, the 
greatest discords occur, as they do everywhere else in the 
manifestations of our unharmonized nature. There are 
deities serenely majestic, and in their sublime presence 
priests are kneeling before a monkey or a beetle. In one 
place are pleasing pictures of domestic life, men, women, and 
children with countenances innocent and mild ; in another 
are heaps of human hands and ears cut from enemies in 
battle. Sometimes a man is represented kneeling, with 
his hands bound, while a priest points a knife to his throat. 
Sometimes there are men with knives thrust through their 
foreheads, or with heads flying from their shoulders. These 
may signify the execution of criminals, or the immolation 
of human victims. Such sacrifices were offered in ancient 
times. The priest examined the victim and put his seal 
upon him, as he did to animals intended for the altar. 
It is said the custom was abolished in Upper Egypt before 
the time of Moses ; but it remained in other parts of the 
empire till the time of Amasis, who reigned five or six 
hundred years before the Christian era. He ordained that 
wax images should be substituted for human beings. 

Long pilgrimages to holy places were considered effica- 
cious for the expiation of sin ; but there are no records of 
such self-tortures as are practised by Hindoo devotees. 
Philostratus, a Greek writer, about two hundred years 
after Christ, describes an association of men who lived in 
a grove not far from the Nile. He calls them Gymnoso- 
phists, which means naked philosophers. Perhaps they 
discarded clothing in sign of superior sanctity and indiffer- 
ence to the world. He says they worshipped the god of 
the Nile, and believed in the immortality of the soul. 
Each one lived by himself, and studied and sacrificed 
apart ; but they sometimes met together in assemblies. If 
a man at Memphis had by any chance killed another, he 
was exiled till these Gymnosophists had absolved him by 
ceremonies of purification. 

The laws of caste appear to have been less rigid in 

EGYPT. 195 

Egypt than in Hindostan. Solomon, though a foreigner, 
married a daughter of one of their kings ; a degree of toler- 
ation which perhaps originated in the fact that Egyptians 
and Jews were both circumcised nations. The condition 
of women in Egypt was prodigiously in advance of their 
enslaved sisters in Hindostan. It was customary to marry 
but one wife. Trade was carried on by women. The 
sculptures represent them buying and selling in the markets, 
and meeting with men at feasts, apparently on terms of 
equality. When kings died without sons, daughters suc- 
ceeded to the throne ; and in some of the sculptured pro- 
cessions, queens take precedence of kings. 

When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, three 
hundred and thirty-two years before Christ, he founded a 
new city, and gave it his own name, Alexandria. Among 
its many splendid edifices for worship, the most magnificent 
was dedicated to Serapis, tutelary deity of the city. 
Sesostris, after his return from extensive conquests, is said 
to have introduced into Egypt the worship of this new 
god. It has been conjectured that he was the emblem of 
Pantheism, combining in himself the attributes of all the 
gods, and therefore considered by Sesostris a desirable 
point of unity for many nations, with distinct religions, all 
under the control of his government. For the same reason 
he was a peculiarly appropriate deity to preside over the 
great commercial city of Alexandria, where worshippers 
of various gods were wont to congregate. That he repre- 
sented all things seems to be implied by the fact that his 
image was made of all metals fused together, and inlaid 
with all sorts of precious stones. A great variety of 
emblems were connected with the figure. A huge ser- 
pent entwined the whole, and rested his head in the hand 
of the god. When ISTicocreon, king of Cyprus, inquired 
who Serapis was, the god replied, through the voice of his 
oracle : " My head is heaven, my ears the air, my eyes the 
sunlight, my belly the sea, and my feet the earth." Severe 
penalties were incurred by any one who ventured to say 
Serapis had ever been incarnated in a human form. This 


law of the priests might have originated in the idea that it 
was blasphemy to suppose any one being could combine 
in himself all the attributes of the Universal Soul. The 
Temple of Serapis is described as one of the stateliest the 
world has ever seen. A great mass of buildings were in- 
cluded within its enclosures, and there were vast subter- 
ranean passages underneath, where it is supposed some of 
the great religious Mysteries were celebrated. In the 
centre of the enclosure stood the Temple, on an artificial 
elevation, surrounded with a magnificent portico. The 
lofty ceiling was supported by immense marble pillars, of 
beautiful proportions. The statue of the god was of such 
colossal size that the right hand touched the wall of 
the sanctuary on one side, and the left on the other. An 
aperture in the wall was so arranged that the first gleams 
of the rising sun fell directly on the face ; and worshippers 
thought he smiled to meet the god of that luminary. A 
small image of the Sun, seated in a chariot, with four 
horses, was suspended from the ceiling, and at the close 
of day was drawn up by a powerful magnet, to represent 
his farewell. The temple was surrounded by a great 
number of galleries and apartments devoted to the priests, 
and to devotees, who had taken vows of celibacy. This 
splendid structure was totally destroyed in the fourth 
century of our era. 

Alexander the Great was imbued with the Grecian free- 
dom of thought, and facility of adaptation to new things. 
He was moreover desirous of attracting the enterprise, 
wealth and learning of the world to his new city. He 
commanded that the laws and religion of Egypt should be 
respected, but he encouraged Greeks and Jews to settle 
there, and extended the same toleration to their opinions. 
The site of the city was consecrated by solemn sacrifices 
both to the deities of Egypt and of Greece. As the great 
commercial route from India to various portions of the 
Roman empire lay through Alexandria, it became the 
great focus of trade ; a connecting link between the un- 
changing East and the ever-changing West. It grew so 

EGYPT. 197 

rapidly, that in a short time Eome was the only city that 
surpassed it in wealth and grandeur. In the century fol- 
lowing Alexander, those two liberal kings of Egypt, 
Ptolemy Soter and Ptolemy Philadelphus, founded and 
enlarged an academy and museum, with a royal library 
of seven hundred thousand volumes. It was the first 
establishment of the kind ever known in the world. 
Scholars of all nations and creeds flocked thither to enjoy 
its advantages. A general indulgence was granted to this 
promiscuous crowd to teach their respective doctrines to 
whoever was inclined to listen. Disciples of diverse sys- 
tems met together in the library, and at meals, and had 
ample opportunities to compare theories of religion and 
philosophy. Under these influences was formed a new set 
of teachers, who carried to distant countries the ideas they 
had received, and thus shook up and mixed together the 
forms of human thought everywhere. 

Old Egypt, once called the " image of heaven, and the 
temple of the whole world," dwindled away. All the 
nations had borrowed of her religion and science, but she 
was too conservative to borrow of them. Successively 
conquered by Persia, Greece, and Kome, and largely settled 
by Jews, she gradually lost her strength. Her princes 
were Grecians, her children attended Greek schools. Her 
religion became a lifeless body, her language utterly ex- 
tinct, her sacred writing an unknown cipher, and half her 
monuments buried in the drifting sand. But traces of her 
customs still exist on the shores of the Nile. Modern 
jugglers know the trick by which her old magicians ren- 
dered serpents motionless or stiff. They compress the 
cervical spine of the animal between the finger and thumb 
and call it changing the serpent into a rod, or stick. 
When thrown down, the pressure being removed, it be- 
comes a serpent again. Idiots are considered holy, and 
their exclamations prophetic. In this form lingers the 
ancient reverence for unpremeditated speech. The dif- 
ferent sections of Cairo are now under the guardianship of 
genii, as they were formerly each under the protection of 
Vol. I.— 17* 


some tutelary deity. An image of a ram's head is still 
worn as an amulet against evil, and so is the golden beetle, 
once sacred to the sun, and an emblem of creation. The 
star of Isis looks down brightly as ever on the land that 
was once her own. The Sphinx stands dark and solemn in 
the desert twilight, a huge phantom of the mighty past, 
unable to reveal her mystery. 

" There sits drear Egypt, 'mid beleaguering sands, 
Half human and half beast ; 
The burnt-out torch within her mouldering hands, 
That once lit all the East." 



"I compile and transmit to posterity, but write not anything new. I 
believe and love the ancients, taking Laou Pang for my pattern." 


The Chinese claim for themselves almost unlimited an- 
tiquity. Their traditions go back millions of years, to a 
time when they were governed by the gods ; but their 
early history is enveloped in thick darkness. It is the 
universal belief in Benares that they emigrated from Hin- 
dostan, and this opinion is said to be sustained by a passage 
in the Code of Menu. Their historical books, translated by 
Frenchmen of science, exhibit a regular chronology, ex- 
tending back three thousand years before our era. Con- 
siderable knowledge of astronomy existed among them at 
a very early period. One of the Jesuit missionaries in 
China, who had read more than a hundred volumes of their 
annals, assures us that they observed the motions of the 
heavenly bodies soon after our date of the Deluge ; and 
European scholars have satisfied themselves that they 
accurately calculated an eclipse two thousand one hundred 
and fifty-five years before Christ. They named successive 
days for the same seven planets that Hindoos and Egyp- 
tians did. Their learned men have always occupied them- 
selves with history, political maxims and external sciences, 
without manifesting much interest in metaphysical in- 
quiries or mystical theories. They have changed less in 
the course of ages than any other nation on earth, partly 
owing to the peculiarity of their language, which impedes 
the introduction of foreign literature, and partly owing to 
their extreme veneration for everything ancient. Opinions 
must be sustained by precedent and authority, and once 


received they are cast into an exact mould, the pattern of 
which must never change. Their minds are never troubled 
with the query, which, in one form or another, has dis- 
turbed the repose of the priesthood all the world over ; no 
restless activity of intellect induces them to inquire : " "Why 
must I always wear my grandfather's hat? My head was 
not measured for it." Unquestioning obedience to su- 
periors, in church, state, and household, constitutes their 
morality. Their emperor is called Holy Son of Heaven, 
and Sole Guardian of the Earth." His subjects prostrate 
themselves in his presence, and do homage to his image 
and his throne. He is, and always has been, at the head 
of ecclesiastical affairs. A belief in the divine origin of 
kings, so universal among the ancients, is expressed by 
the Chinese in a tradition concerning their first monarch, 
Fo-hi. They say he had no mortal father ; that his 
mother conceived him encompassed by a rainbow. Men 
remarkable for holiness or wisdom are generally called 
Tien-tse, Sons of Heaven. It is a common opinion that 
they had no mortal fathers, but derived their existence 
from some heavenly source. 

The greatest name among Chinese sages is Kong-Fou- 
tseu, Latinized into Confucius. He was born five hundred 
and fifty-one years before Christ. In boyhood he was re- 
markably serious, and manifested no taste for childish 
amusements. His ancestors held offices under government 
for six generations, but in youth he was poor, and obliged 
to support himself by manual labour. He had but one 
wife, to whom he was married at nineteen years of age. 
When twenty years old, he was appointed superintendent 
of grain and cattle in his native province, as a reward for 
intelligence and virtuous conduct. Afterward he* held the 
rank of Mandarin at court, but as the king would not 
follow his advice in what he deemed for the good of the 
people, he resigned his office, went into a neighbouring 
province, and became a teacher of morals. He is said to 
have had several thousand disciples, by whom he appears 
to have been regarded with the deepest veneration. They 


said : " Since men existed, there has never been one to be 
compared to Confucius." " As the heavens cannot be 
scaled, even by the highest ladder^ so no man can attain to 
Confucius. Were he to obtain the throne, he would es- 
tablish the people, and they would be correct." " He may 
be compared to heaven and earth, in their supporting, 
containing, and overshadowing all things; to the regular 
revolutions of the seasons, and the alternate shining of the 
sun and moon." But it is not likely that such trans- 
cendent merit would have been accorded to him in any 
other country. 

The formality of Chinese etiquette is stamped on all that 
is related of him. His moral teachings are mixed with 
many rules how to regulate the countenance, and how to 
stand or walk in the presence of elders, or superiors in 
rank. It is recorded, as very important, that on the first 
of every month he always put on his court robes, and 
waited on the prince. " When he entered the palace door 
he crouched down, as if the door could not admit him. 
Holding up his robes, he ascended the hall, bending his 
body, repressing his breath, as if he did not dare to breathe. 
When he passed by the empty throne, his countenance 
changed suddenly, and he walked with grave and meas- 
ured steps, as if fettered. When he went out, and descended 
one step, he relaxed his countenance a little, and assumed 
a mild and pleasing deportment. When he reached the 
foot of the stairs, he let fall his robes, and expanded his 
arms like a bird's wings." " When he met any person 
in mourning, he bowed even to the front cross-beam of his 
carriage ; he did the same to a person bearing the census 
of the people. If the mat was not laid straight, he sat not 
down. When old men, who walked with canes, withdrew 
from a feast, he rose and retired also." He never drank 
wine enough to confuse his mind ; and whatsoever he ate 
or drank, he first offered a portion to the gods. It is re- 
corded that he turned back from a journey, on account of 
meeting unlucky omens by the way. He was fond of 
music, and often recommended its cultivation ; particularly 


that of their famous monarch, Shun, which so excited him, 
when he first heard it, that he knew not the taste of his 
food for three months after. His doctrines are based on 
the idea that human nature is good and beautiful, unless 
obscured by the darkness of ignorance, or sullied by the 
contagion of vice. As the best means of restoring its ori- 
ginal lustre, he inculcates reverence toward the Supreme 
Ruler, justice and kindness toward others, temperate indul- 
gence of the appetites, and a due regard to the medium of 
propriety in all things. His respect for parental authority 
was carried to such an extreme, that he thought parents 
had a right to sell their children. He encouraged mar- 
riage and agriculture, but was less favourable to commerce. 
On religious subjects his recorded sayings are very inde- 
finite. He appears to have conformed to the usages of his 
country as he found them. He alludes reverently to a 
Supreme Ruler, and it may be inferred that he had belief 
of some kind in the immortality of the soul. He inculcates 
the worship of Spirits, and ceremonial observances to the 
souls of ancestors. 

He wrote no books, and his literary merit, as he himself 
says, is merely that of a compiler. Being desirous to hand 
down to posterity the worship and the principles of political 
wisdom, practised by their pattern-princes, Yaou and Shun, 
who lived fifteen hundred years before him, he collected 
and arranged the scattered fragments of old books relating 
to the laws and manners of ancient times. Therefore, the 
Chinese consider him superior even to those revered mon- 
archs ; for " they benefitted one age only by their wise 
and benevolent government ; while Confucius, by transmit- 
ting their principles to ten thousand ages, possesses ten 
thousand times their merit." 

The Chinese sage lived seventy-three years, and toward 
the close of his life mourned much over modern degeneracy. 
A few days before his death, he said to his disciples: 
" Kings refuse to follow my maxims, and since I am no 
longer useful in the world, it is best I should depart from 
it." Many of his disciples erected a tent near his grave, 


and remained there three years, mourning for him, and 
offering prayers and sacrifices ; one of them lingered six 
years. His descendants inherit the office and title of Man- 
darins, and, to this day, religious honours are paid to his 
memory, as if he were an illustrious ancestor lately de- 
ceased. The following are samples of his maxims, as 
recorded by his disciples : — 

" Not to correct our faults is to commit new ones." 

11 Be rigid to yourself and gentle to others, and you will 
have no enemies." 

" The wise man loves to be by himself, the fool seeks 

" By the very errors of men, we may judge whether 
they are virtuous or not. If a good man errs, it is gener- 
ally through excess of affection or gratitude ; but the 
errors of a vicious man commonly proceed from excess of 
hatred and ingratitude." 

" Life and death depend on the law of Tien, which is 
immutable. Poverty and riches are dispensed by Tien, 
who cannot be compelled. A wise man reveres the dis- 
pensations of Tien, and thus enjoys inward tranquillity 
and peace." 

11 How vast is the power of Spirits ! An ocean of in- 
visible Intelligences surround us everywhere. If you look 
for them, you cannot see them. If you listen, you cannot 
hear them. Identified with the substance of all thino-s 
they cannot be separated from it. They cause men to 
purify and sanctify their hearts ; to clothe themselves with 
festive garments, and offer oblations to their ancestors. 
They are everywhere above us, on the right and on the 
left. Their coming cannot be calculated. How important 
that we should not neglect them !" 

" Worship the gods, as though they were visibly present. 
Sacrifice to ancestors as if they were here." 

"He who knows right principles is not equal to him 
who loves them ; nor is he who loves them equal to him 
who delights in them." 

" Coarse rice for food, water for drink, and one's bended 


arm for a pillow, even in the midst of these there is happi- 
ness ; but riches and honours gained bj injustice are to me 
like fleeting clouds." 

"To know that a thing is right and not to do it, is 

" Have not a friend morally inferior to yourself." 

"If you err, fear not to reform." 

"Be not sorry that men do not know you, but be sorry 
that you are ignorant of men." 

" The highest exercise of benevolence is tender affection 
for relatives." 

" Teach all, without regard to what class they belong." 

"To be thoroughly instructed in music and rites, to 
teach others principles of virtue, to possess the friendship 
of many wise men, these are useful satisfactions. But 
satisfactions derived from pride, vanity, idleness, and sen- 
sual pleasures, are injurious." 

" How wise is Hwuy ! He has only a bamboo vase for 
his rice, a cup to drink from, and a mean narrow lane for 
his habitation. Other men could not endure such priva- 
tions; but it disturbs not the serenity of Hwuy !" 

"Fix the thoughts on duty, practise without ceasing the 
virtue of humanity, and, if you have leisure, cultivate the 

" To keep invariably in the due medium constitutes vir- 
tue ; men rarely persevere in it." 

" The nature of man is upright. If in the course of his 
life he loses this natural uprightness, he removes far from 
him all happiness." 

" If wise and virtuous men were to govern a state for a 
hundred years, they could put an end to tyranny and 

"Abroad, do your duty to your prince and his magis- 
trates. At home, obey your father, mother, and elder 
brothers. In funeral and sacrificial rites, do not permit 
any negligence. Allow yourself no excess in the use of 

" I see no defect in the character of Yu. He was sober 


in eating and drinking, and eminently pious toward Spirits 
and ancestors. His common apparel was coarse, but his 
sacrificial robes were beautifully adorned. He lived in an 
humble dwelling, but employed his strength in making 
ditches and water-courses for the good of the people." 

There was an old tradition that the Yu here referred to 
by Confucius was born of a virgin, who conceived him 
from the rays of a star. He is said to have been employed 
by the emperor to drain off the waters of a great deluge, 
which, according to Chinese chronology, occurred two 
thousand two hundred years before Christ. 

When Confucius was asked what might be said in favour 
of rewarding hatred by kindness, he replied : " In that case, 
with what will you reward kindness ? Eeturn bad treat- 
ment with equity, and recompense kindness with kindness." 
One of his disciples begged that he would teach him to die 
well. He answered : " You have not yet learned to live 
well ; when you have learned that, you will know how to 
die well." Some person inquired of him what one maxim 
expressed the conduct proper for a whole life. He re- 
joined: " Never do to others what you do not wish them 
to do to you." One day, when he had gone out from 
among his scholars, a question arose concerning the general 
purport of his teaching. One of them said : " The doctrine 
of our master consists solely in integrity of heart, and treat- 
ing his neighbour as he himself wishes to be treated." 
There is a tradition that Confucius was often heard to 
repeat: "In the Land of the West will the holy one be 
found." This declaration coincides with a prophecy in 
their old Sacred Books, and was afterward brought into 
general notice when the religion of Fo was introduced from 
India, which they are accustomed to designate as the Land 
of the West. 

The compilation of ancient history and laws made by 
Confucius is called, by way of pre-eminence, " The Five 
Volumes." They date four hundred years before Moses, 
about two thousand years before the Christian era, and 
refer continually to a religion long established at the time 
Vol. I.— 18 


they were written, which they merely seek to preserve and 
impress upon the minds of the people. They are univer- 
sally considered to be very sacred authority, though they 
do not claim to be divine revelations, and a comparatively 
small portion of their contents are of a strictly religious 
character. They contain the fundamental laws of the 
empire, rules for rites and ceremonies, moral maxims, and 
memoirs of princes. Apparently, their chief object was to 
preserve tranquillity in the state, by a precise regulation 
of manners and the inculcation of perfect obedience to 
government. They preserve a tradition concerning a mys- 
terious Garden, where grew a Tree, bearing Apples of Im- 
mortality, guarded by a winged Serpent, called a Dragon. 
They describe a primitive age of the world, when the earth 
yielded abundance of delicious fruits without cultivation, 
and the seasons were untroubled by wind or storms. 
There was no calamity, sickness or death. Men were 
then good without effort ; for the human heart was in 
harmony with the peacefulness and beauty of nature. 
After this happy time, men degenerated by progressive 
stages. But finally Tien-tse, a Son of Heaven, would be 
born into the world, do away all sin, and restore order. 
These ancient books contain no specific doctrine concerning 
God, but they make frequent mention of One Invisible 
Being, under the name of Chang- ti, which signifies the 
Supreme Emperor. Sometimes he is called Tien, meaning 
the visible heaven. Their interpreters explain this by 
saying : " The firmament is the most glorious work pro- 
duced by the Great First Cause." Chang-ti is described 
as the Original Principle of all things, almighty, omni- 
scient, knowing the inmost secrets of the heart, watching 
over the conduct of the universe, and permitting nothing 
to happen contrary to his will ; rewarding virtue and pun- 
ishing wickedness, raising up and casting down kings, and 
sending public calamities as a warning to nations to repent 
and forsake their sins. When an unjust emperor was 
struck by lightning, these Sacred Volumes represent it as 
a direct and visible punishment, sent by Tien, or Heaven, 


as an admonition to mankind. They contain many solemn 
invocations to Chang- ti, for the recovery of a good emperor 
from dangerous illness, to obtain rain after a severe drought, 
and other similar benefits ; and they relate many instances 
to assure devout readers that such prayers are generally 
heard and answered. They likewise affirm that no out- 
ward adoration can be pleasing to Tien unless it proceeds 
from a sincere heart. 

From their most ancient times the Supreme Emperor of 
Heaven has been worshipped at stated seasons, with great 
solemnity. When a new emperor succeeded to the throne, 
it was always considered his duty to plough a portion of 
the ground, in token of humility, and cultivate a crop to 
be offered in sacrifice to Chang- ti. The empress feeds silk 
worms, and assists in manufacturing and embroidering rich 
silks, to be used as ornaments when these sheaf-offerings 
are carried in procession, and devoutly presented, by royal 
hands, to the Emperor of Heaven. Whenever these cere- 
monials have been omitted, or negligently performed, the 
Sacred Books declare that the displeasure of Chang-ti has 
soon after been manifested by extraordinary public calami- 
ties. Some of the early emperors, in addition to the cus- 
tomary agricultural offerings, kept a domestic park to rear 
six sorts of animals for sacrifice, twice a year, at the winter 
solstice and the summer solstice. On these occasions, the 
people were enjoined to do nothing, and think of nothing 
but joining with the emperor in worship of Chang-ti. In 
the reign of Tching-tang there was a distressing famine for 
seven years, occasioned by drought. The emperor having 
in vain offered a multitude of sacrifices, at last resolved to 
devote himself as a victim to appease the anger of Heaven. 
He took off his imperial robes, and, accompanied by the 
grandees of his court, went to a mountain some distance 
from the city, where with bare head and naked feet, in the 
posture of a criminal, he prostrated himself nine times be- 
fore the Ruler of the Universe, and uttered the following 
prayer : " Supreme Emperor, all the sacrifices I have 
offered to implore thy mercy have been in vain ; therefore 


it is doubtless I myself, who have drawn down so much 
misery on my people. May I dare to ask what my fault 
is ? Is it the magnificence of my palace, or the luxuries 
of my table ? Is it the number of my concubines ? which, 
however, are not more than the laws allow me. I am 
sincerely desirous to repair all my faults by modesty, fru- 
gality, and temperance ; and if this be insufficient, I offer 
myself as a victim to justice. Let me be punished, and 
my people spared. I shall be content to have thy thun- 
derbolt fall on my head, if at the same time rain descends 
upon the earth, to relieve the miseries of my people." His 
prayer was answered. Clouds overspread the sky, and 
genial showers moistened the earth, which brought forth 
abundant harvests. 

These Five Sacred Books favour belief in a multitude 
of Spirits, pervading the universe. They say nothing 
definite concerning future rewards and punishments ; but 
a belief in the immortality of the soul is implied by the 
fact that they prescribe ceremonials to be performed for the 
souls of deceased ancestors, and speak of the virtuous de- 
parted as being near Chang-ti. 

The Grolden Age of the Past is much dwelt upon by their 
ancient commentators. One of them says: "All places 
were then equally the native country of every man. Flocks 
wandered in the fields without any guide ; birds filled the 
air with their melodious voices ; and the fruits grew of their 
own accord. Man lived pleasantly with the animals, and all 
creatures were members of the same family. Ignorant of 
evil, man lived in simplicity and perfect innocence." An- 
other says: "In the first age of perfect purity, all was in 
harmony, and the passions did not occasion the slightest 
murmur. Man, united to sovereign reason within, conformed 
his outward actions to sovereign justice. Far from all du- 
plicity and falsehood, his soul received marvellous felicity 
from heaven, and the purest delights from earth." 

The first man is called by the Chinese Tai Wang, and 
the first woman Pao See. In one of The Five Yolumes, 
called Chi King, it is said : " Tien placed man upon a high 


mountain, which Tai Wang rendered fruitless by his own 
fault. He filled the earth with thorns and briars, and said, 
I am not guilty, for I could not. do otherwise. "Why did 
he plunge us into so much misery? All was subjected to 
man at first, but a woman threw us into slavery. The 
wise husband raised up a bulwark of walls ; but the 
woman, by an ambitious desire of knowledge, demolished 
them. Our misery did not come from Heaven, but from a 
woman. She lost the human race. Ah, unhappy Pao 
See ! thou kindled the fire that consumes us, and which is 
every day augmenting. Our misery has lasted many ages. 
The world is lost. Yice overflows all things, like a mortal 
poison." The commentator Lopi says : " After man had 
acquired false science, nature was spoiled and degraded. 
All creatures became his enemies. The birds of the air, 
the beasts of the field, the serpents and the reptiles, con- 
spired to hurt him." 

The Five Yolumes are full of prophecies concerning a 
Golden Age in the Future. All these relate to the glory 
of the Chinese empire, which is one day to extend over the 
face of the whole earth. It is the universal belief that a 
Divine Man will establish himself on their Holy Mountain, 
and everywhere restore peace and happiness. This moun- 
tain is called Kou-En-Lun, and is supposed to be in the 
middle of the world. One of The Five Yolumes, called 
Chan-Hai-King, thus describes it: "All that could be de- 
sired, wondrous trees, marvellous fountains, and flowery 
shades, are found in the hidden garden on that sacred hill. 
This mountain is the inferior palace of the Sovereign Lord. 
The animal Kaiming guards the entrance." 

" The Lord looks with pleasure upon the Holy Moun- 
tain. It is the abode of peace. There grow none of the 
trees employed to make warlike instruments. It is an 
eternal kingdom. It is the work of the Most High. The 
Kingdom of the Middle is where the Holy Son of Heaven 
will come to reign. He allows no wicked men to enter 
there. He banishes them into the dark abodes of beasts 
and monsters. The subjects of that kingdom are called 
Vol. I.— 18* 


heavenly people, because they are governed by the Holy 
Son of Heaven, who perfects them from within and 
without, and nourishes them by his supreme virtue and 
celestial doctrine, so that they cry out with joy, The Son 
of Heaven is truly the Father of his people, and Lord of 
the Universe." 

" This is the Mountain of the Lord : these living foun- 
tains are the pure waters wherein the subjects of the Prince 
of Peace are to quench their thirst. He himself has chosen 
this mountain. He himself has opened the clear streams. 
It is hither that all the faithful nations must come. It is 
here that all the kings will meet." 

One of the ancient commentators on the Sacred Books 
says : " We have learned from our ancestors that there as- 
suredly is a mountain called Kou-En-Lun ; though hitherto 
no one has found it." Another says : " A delicious garden, 
refreshed with zephyrs, and planted with odoriferous trees, 
was situated in the middle of the mountain, which was the 
avenue of heaven. The waters that moistened it flowed 
from a source called the Fountain of Immortality. He 
who drinks of it never dies. Thence flowed four rivers. 
A Golden Kiver, betwixt the south and east ; a Ked Eiver, 
between the north and east ; a Peaceful Eiver, between the 
south and west ; and the Kiver of the Lamb, between the 
north and west. These magnificent floods are the spiritual 
fountains of the Sovereign Lord, by which he heals nations 
and fructifies all things." "If you double the height of 
Kou-En-Lun it will become the Supreme Heaven, where 
Spirits live, the palace of the Great Lord and Sovereign. 

The Five Yolumes state that "the Source and Eoot of 
all is One. This Self-Existent Unity necessarily produced 
a second. The first and second, by their union, produced 
a third. These Three produced all." 

" The ancient emperors solemnly sacrificed, every three 
years, to Him who is One and Three." 

"Tien helps people of the inferior worlds. He gave 
them a guide and teacher, the faithful minister of the 


Supreme Lord, to whom, out of love, he intrusted the 
government of the universe. Tien is The Holy One 
without a voice. The Holy One is Tien speaking with a 
voice." [That is, the Word.] 

One of the old commentators says : "By consulting the 
ancient traditions, we know that though the Holy One will 
be born upon earth, yet he existed before anything was 

One of the Five Yolumes, called Y King, says : " The 
Holy One will unite in himself all the virtues of heaven 
and earth. By his justice the world will be re-established 
in the ways of righteousness. He will labour and suffer 
much. He must pass the great torrent, whose waves shall 
enter into his soul ; but he alone can offer up to the Lord 
a sacrifice worthy of him." 

An ancient commentator says: "The common people 
sacrifice their lives to gain bread ; the philosophers to ac- 
quire reputation ; the nobility to perpetuate their families. 
The Holy does not seek himself, but the good of others. 
He enriches others and impoverishes himself. He dies to 
save the world." 

In one of The Five Yolumes, called Chu King, it is 
written : u Tien, the Sovereign Lord, said to Yenwang 
[The Prince of Peace] : I love pure and simple virtue, like 
thine. It makes no noise, it does not dazzle from without. 
It is not proud or forward. Seeing thee, one would say 
thou hadst no light, no knowledge, but to conform thyself 
to my laws." 

-" We expect our king. When he comes he will deliver 
us from all misery. He will restore us to new life." 

A nephew of Confucius writes: "We expect this 
Divine Man, and he is to come after three thousand years." 
Another disciple of Confucius adds: "The people long 
for his coming, as the dry grass longs for the clouds and 
the rainbow." 

The following extracts are from the Book of Chu King : 
" The Sovereign Lord of Heaven produced all the nations 
of the world, and reigns over them. He makes no excep- 


tion of persons, but esteems virtue alone, loving men only 
so far as they worship him sincerely. He hears the prayers 
of the merciful, but he destroys the wicked. We ought to 
pray to him for immortal life." 

"Perfection consists in being reunited to the Supreme 
Unity. The soul was at first luminous, but it was after- 
ward obscured. It should be our earnest endeavour to 
restore it to its primitive light ; and it is only by destroying 
all wrong desires, and all self-love, that we can perceive 
celestial reason. What is called reason is properly an 
attribute of Tien, the Supreme Grod. The light which he 
communicates to men is a participation of this reason. 
What is called reason in Tien is virtue in man, and, when 
reduced to practice, is called justice. The truly wise man 
remains within himself, and piety rules all his conduct." 

" To think that we have virtue, is to have very little of 
it. Wisdom consists in being very humble, as if we were 
incapable of anything, yet ardent, as if we could do all." 

" When thou art in the secret places of thy house, do 
not say, None sees me ; for there is an Intelligent Spirit, 
who seeth all. Tien, the Supreme, pierces into the recesses 
of the heart, as light penetrates into a dark room. We 
must endeavour to be in harmony with his light, like a 
musical instrument perfectly attuned. We must receive 
from his hand, as soon as he opens it. He seeks to en- 
lighten us continually ; but, by our disorderly passions, we 
close the entrance to our souls." 

" Mankind, overwhelmed with afflictions, seem to doubt 
of Providence ; but when the hour of executing his decrees 
shall come, none can resist him. He will then show that 
when he punished, he was just and good, and that he was 
never actuated by vengeance or hatred." 

These Five Books, and other volumes containing the 
recorded sayings of Confucius, are the standard literature 
of China, the basis of all their moral and political wisdom. 
Every schoolboy in the empire has committed them to 
memory from time immemorial, and to call in question any- 
thing they assert would be deemed the most alarming heresy. 


There has always existed in China a tribunal called the 
Court of Rites, invested with full authority to condemn and 
suppress any hurtful innovations ; and this has greatly 
contributed to the preservation of the ancient religion. 
But the plain practical teaching of Confucius had no mar- 
vels to overawe the imagination, and it prescribed no 
ascetic practices, or elaborate ceremonials, by which the 
sinner could mitigate remorse, and hope to reconcile him- 
self with Divine Powers. Consequently, the populace 
manifested an inclination to adopt other forms of faith. 
Lao-kiun, sometimes called Lao-tseu, is supposed to have 
been the first who introduced foreign belief into China. 
He was cotemporary with Confucius, and founder of the 
sect called Tao-tse. Tradition reports that he voluntarily 
renounced the advantages of rank, and retired into the 
solitude of the forest, in the Land of the West ; their name 
for India. The doctrines he taught indicate that he was 
a Hindoo devotee, but to what sect he belonged is unknown. 
He believed in the existence of One Supreme Being, in- 
visible, eternal, and incomprehensible, called Tao, which 
means Reason, or "Wisdom. Successive emanations from 
him were subordinate Spirits, who produced the world, 
and governed it as his agents. It was his favourite maxim 
that " Tao produced one ; one produced two ; two pro*j 
duced a third ; and three produced all things." The science 
of Tao was the means of arriving at felicity and perfect 
freedom. This science could be obtained by severe morti- 
fication of the body, entire subjection of the passions, and 
devout contemplation. When a man arrived at this holy 
state, he was an immortal while he yet remained upon the 
earth. It was believed that he could foretell events, fly 
through the air, put back the course of the years, and 
ascend to heaven without dying. Lao-kiun was accus- 
tomed to say: "The Holy pronounced these words: He 
that takes upon himself the dust and filth of the kingdom, 
shall become king of the universe." He acquired great 
reputation for sanctity, and marvellous stories were told 
of his birth. It was said that he had existed from all eter- 


nity ; that he descended to earth, and was born of a virgin, 
black in complexion, described " marvellous and beautiful 
as jasper ;" that when his mission of benevolence was com- 
pleted, he ascended bodily alive into the Paradise above. 
His statue was placed in the emperor's palace, a splendid 
temple was erected to him, and he was worshipped as a 
god. His disciples were called, " Heavenly Teachers." 
They inculcated great tenderness toward animals, and con- 
sidered strict celibacy necessary for the attainment of per- 
fect holiness. 

One morning a book filled with magical formulas and 
invocations to Spirits was found suspended on the principal 
gate of Pekin. The followers of Lao-kiun said it had 
descended from heaven in the night-time. The emperor 
Tchin-tsong, being among the converts to the new doctrine, 
went on foot to the city gate, in token of humility, received 
the volume with all reverence, enclosed it in a golden box, 
and carried it back to the palace, where it has ever since 
been carefully preserved, as the oracle of the sect, under 
the title of Tao-teking. From revelations contained in 
these writings, the teachers profess to know how to cast 
out Evil Spirits from those afflicted with diseases, to pre- 
dict events from the aspect of the stars, and make gold by 
some mysterious process of alchemy and magic. They 
even persuaded one of the emperors that they had dis- 
covered how to distil a liquor which would confer immortal 
life on whoever drank it. The teachers of this sect have 
great influence with the populace, to whom they sell amu- 
lets to preserve them from evil, and innumerable small 
images of Spirits, and of saints who have become God. 
The successors of Lao-kiun are always honoured with the 
title of chief Mandarins. The head of the sect resides in a 
magnificent palace in the district of Kiang-si. A great 
concourse of people, among whom are some persons of 
rank, flock thither from the neighbouring provinces, to 
have diseases cured, or their fortunes told. 

Such practices have always been ridiculed by the school 
of Confucius, and the Court of Bites has uniformly con- 


demned them. In the third century after Confucius, the 
emperor, annoyed by the power thus obtained over the 
credulous multitude, ordered all books of magic to be 
burned, and put many professors of it to death ; but some 
of the writings were secretly preserved, and afterward 
brought to light. 

A new religion was subsequently introduced, concerning 
which the following traditions are preserved. In the 
twenty-fourth year of the reign of Tchao-Waug, on the 
eighth day of the moon, a light from the south-west illu- 
mined the palace of the king. The monarch summoned 
sages skilled in predicting the future, and inquired the 
meaning of this splendour. They showed him books 
wherein it was prophesied that such a light would be seen 
when a great saint was born in the West, and that one 
thousand years after his birth, his religion would spread 
into China. This was one thousand and twenty-nine years 
before Christ. Sixty-five years after Christ, the emperor 
Ming-ti dreamed that a man ten feet high, of the colour of 
gold, and glittering like the sun, entered his palace, and 
said : " My religion will spread over these parts." When 
the sages were consulted, they opened the annals of the 
empire and showed him how his dream corresponded with 
the prophecy which had been read to Tchao-Wang a thou- 
sand years before. He was so much impressed by the 
coincidence, that he immediately sent ambassadors to India, 
with directions to seek for the Holy One, and not return 
until they found him. These messengers encountered some 
of the disciples of Bouddha Sakia, and brought back his 
Sacred Books, with teachers to explain them. The doc- 
trines of this sect have been described in the chapter on 
Hindostan. They have been very generally adopted in 
China, where Bouddha is known under the name of the 
(rod Fo. Five centuries after the introduction of this 
religion, there were three thousand temples of Fo in the 
Chinese empire, and the emperor himself was so attached 
to the new faith, that he resigned the government into the 
hands of his adopted son, that he might withdraw from all 


worldly affairs, and devote himself entirely to meditation 
on divine things. 

In one of the Sacred Books brought by the ambassadors, 
Bouddha is understood to refer to a master more ancient 
than himself, called by the Chinese Om-i-to, and by the 
Japanese Am-i-da. It is said this name, in Sanscrit, sig- 
nifies The Infinite. It is apparently a variation of Om, 
which Hindoos hold so peculiarly sacred as the Word 
which issued from the mouth of Brahma, and produced all 
things. In China, it is written thousands and thousands 
of times on all their holy places. In their prayers, they 
pronounce it with Fo, believing they can thus obtain re- 
mission of sins. 

Phu-sa, a follower of Bouddha, who lived early in our 
fourth century, is worshipped in China, as one of those 
saints who had become a Spirit of Light, and voluntarily 
descended to earth again from motives of benevolence. He 
is called "The son of Bouddha, born of his mouth," because 
his allegorical writings are supposed to have perfected the 
doctrines of his master. Bodhidhorma, another of his fol- 
lowers, who fled from persecution in Hindostan, in our fifth 
century, took refuge in China, where he was received with 
distinguished favour by the emperor, and became his 
spiritual teacher. His name is held in religious veneration, 
and his office of imperial counsellor was the origin of an 
order of priests still existing, called Spiritual Princes of 
the Law. 

The emperors of the Tartar dynasty have all embraced 
Lamaism, a branch of Buddhism, which will be presently 
explained. But whatever may be their personal predilec- 
tions, the law obliges them to conform to the rites and 
ceremonies prescribed in the ancient Sacred Books of China, 
in common with all magistrates and public officers. The 
festivals of the old religion are scrupulously observed. 
Every new emperor guides the plough with his own hands, 
to raise grain for an offering to Chang-ti. At the winter 
solstice, the last week in December, and the summer 
solstice, the last week in June, all the shops are shut up ? 


the courts are closed, and no person is permitted to begin 
a long journey. The religious solemnities celebrated at 
those seasons are called Festivals of Gratitude to Tien. At 
the spring equinox, they set apart a day to implore the 
blessing of Tien on the fruits of the earth. At the 
autumnal equinox, they offer the first-fruits of the harvest, 
and return thanks. 

Though, the worship of Fo has been the prevailing 
religion of all parts of the Chinese empire for more than 
fifteen hundred years, it has never gained favour with a 
majority of their learned men, who are mostly of the school 
of Confucius. One of them argues thus : " This person, so 
cried up, who has come out of the West into China, passed, 
as they say, nine years on a mountain, in continual contem- 
plation. He remained immoveable, with his eyes fixed 
upon the wall, without changing his position. Suppose 
every private person should take it into his head to follow 
this example, who would take care of cultivating the fields, 
and making the useful products of the loom? Whence 
would they have garments, and food to support life ? Can 
it be imagined that a doctrine whose practice, if it were 
universal, would put the whole empire in confusion, is the 
true doctrine ?" A letter from one of them, addressed to 
the emperor, says : " If the worship of Fo is tolerated, the 
people will go by hundreds to give their money and cloth- 
ing to the priests ; and I fear that young and old will finish 
by entirely neglecting their occupations. If you do not 
forbid these things, there will soon be persons who will 
mutilate their members to offer them to Fo, thus destroy- 
ing our morality, and exciting the ridicule of people around 
us." Another writes thus to a believer in the popular 
doctrines : "If you do not burn paper in honour of Fo, if 
you do not place offerings upon his altar, he will be angry 
with you, and make punishment fall on your heads. Your 
god Fo must then be a miserable creature." 

But these are merely the opinions of the learned. The 
populace have always been so attached to the religion of 
Fo, that the Court of Rites have deemed it prudent to ex- 

VOL. I.— 19 K 


press no opinion against it. When they meet annually at 
Pekin, they merely condemn heresy in general terms, and 
leave the people free to follow their own opinions, pro- 
vided they do not infringe upon any of the established 
laws of the empire. Many, who consider themselves dis- 
ciples of Confucius, have mixed his maxims with various 
ideas borrowed from the Sacred Books of Fo. The women 
are almost universally attached to the popular worship. 
They have an altar in the most honourable part of the 
house, covered with gilded images of gods and saints ; and 
not unfrequently husbands, who profess the old conserva- 
tive faith of China, are seen bowing the knee to these 
household deities. One of the most universal of these 
images is that of Shing Mou, the Mother Goddess; the 
same title bestowed by ancient Egyptians on Isis with her 
infant Horus. It represents a woman with a glory round 
her head, and a babe in her arms, or seated on her knee. 
Tradition describes her as a virgin, who conceived by sim- 
ple contact with a water-lily. The child, exposed in his 
infancy, was found and brought up by poor fishermen. 
He became a great man, and performed wonderful miracles. 
In wealthy houses, the sacred image of the Mother Goddess 
is carefully kept in a recess behind the altar, veiled with a 
silken screen. 

Every Chinese believes he has an attendant Spirit, his 
own peculiar guardian. An image of it is kept in the 
house and worshipped three times a day, with prayers, and 
the fragrant incense of sandal wood. Sun, moon, fire, water, 
earth, and every department of nature, has a presiding 
deity. So has each trade and profession. Homage is often 
paid to some high mountain, or remarkably large tree, from 
the idea that a powerful Spirit resides therein. The image 
of a great Dragon, or monstrous Serpent, occurs everywhere 
in their temples, and on domestic altars. They say it lives 
in the sky, and has great influence over the affairs of men. 
Originally it doubtless represented the constellation of the 
Serpent, and they preserve this fragmentary form of the 


old astronomical religion of India, Chaldea, and Egypt, 
without understanding the idea it embodied. 

According to the statements of Jesuit missionaries in 
China, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls some- 
times manifests itself in singular results. Father Le Comte 
says : " One day two priests of Fo passing the dwelling of 
a rich peasant saw three large ducks before the door. 
They immediately stopped before the house and began to 
weep bitterly. The peasant's wife came out to inquire the 
cause of their grief. They replied : ' We know that the 
souls of our fathers have passed into those creatures, and 
the fear that you may kill them renders us wretched.' 
The woman promised they should be carefully tended, and 
neither killed nor sold. But they answered : ' Perhaps 
your husband may not be so compassionate as you are ; 
and if any accident should happen, it would be a great 
affliction to us. 7 After some further conversation, the 
woman felt such sympathy with their filial anxiety, that she 
gave them the ducks." 

The same writer says : " They called upon me one day 
to baptize a sick person, an old man of seventy, who lived 
upon a small pension given him by the emperor. When 
I entered his room, he said : ' I thank you, Father, that 
you are going to deliver me from a heavy punishment.' 
I replied : ' That is not all. Baptism not only saves people 
from hell, but conducts them to a life of blessedness.' 1 1 
do not comprehend what you say,' rejoined the invalid ; 
'and perhaps I have not sufficiently explained myself. I 
have for some time past lived on the emperor's benevolence. 
The priests, who. are well acquainted with what happens to 
the soul after death, assure me that I shall be obliged to 
repay the emperor's generosity by becoming a post-horse 
to bring despatches from the provinces to court. They 
exhort me to perform my duty well, when I assume this 
new form of being, and to take care not to stumble, or 
wince, or bite. They tell me if I travel well, eat little, 
and am patient, I may by that means excite the compassion 
of the deities, who often convert a good beast into a man 


of quality, and make him a considerable Mandarin. I 
cannot think of all this without trembling. Sometimes I 
dream that I am harnessed, and ready to set out at the 
first stroke of the rider. I then wake in a sweat, and am 
very unhappy, not being able to determine whether I am 
a man or a horse. Alas ! what will become of me, when 
I shall be a horse in reality ? They tell me, Father, that 
people of your religion are not subject to such miseries ; 
that men continue to be men in the next world, as they 
are in this. I beseech you to receive me among you. I 
am ready to embrace your religion ; for, whatever it may 
cost me, I had rather be a Christian than become a beast." 
The Jesuit Father baptized him, and the poor old man de- 
parted from this life happy in the belief that he should 
not be obliged to reappear on earth in the form of a post- 

In some places assemblies of women are held, to perform 
certain religious ceremonies as a preparation for death. A 
venerable old priest comes to preside over the meeting. 
He arranges the sacred images, and covers the walls of the 
house with paintings representing the various torments of 
the wicked after they leave the body. He sings anthems 
to Fo, while the women strike small kettles at intervals, 
and devoutly repeat the names of Omi-to and Fo. These 
festivals continue seven days, during which their principal 
care is to prepare and consecrate treasures for the other 
world. They build small houses with paper, and fill them 
with a great number of boxes painted and gilded. In these 
boxes they put hundreds of little rolls of gold and silver 
paper. They secure them with padlocks of paper, and 
fasten the house carefully. When the person who made 
the house dies, they burn it, with all its chests and keys, 
with many solemn ceremonials, for which the priests are 
paid. They believe the house will become a real house in 
the other world, and the rolls of paper will become genuine 
ingots of gold and silver. In the house they expect to 
reside, and with the treasures they hope to propitiate the 
eighteen guardians of souls in the regions of the dead. 


With a view to laying up a store of religious merit, they 
repeat many prayers, and make many genuflexions before 
images; for the due performance of which the priests give 
them sealed certificates, varying in price, according to cir- 
cumstances. These certificates are placed in a box, which 
is sealed up when the person dies, and is carried to the 
funeral with much ceremony. They call it Lou-in, which 
signifies a passport for travelling from one world to 

They annually publish astronomical calculations of the 
motions of the planets, for every hour and minute of the 
year. They consider it important to be very exact, because 
the hours, and even the minutes, are lucky or unlucky, 
according to the aspect of the stars. Some days are con- 
sidered peculiarly fortunate for marrying, or beginning to 
build a house ; and the gods are better pleased with sacri- 
fice offered at certain hours, than they are with the same 
ceremony performed at other times. 

The doctrines of Fo, and the ritual of his worship, are 
contained in an old book, called Kio, which his numerous 
followers receive as sacred. An immense number of com- 
mentaries have been written upon it. It is said there is 
likewise a very ancient book in China, called Yekim, attri- 
buted to Fo himself; but it is written in hieroglyphics, and 
cannot be deciphered. All their holy books, and religious 
formulas, are written in a sacred language, called Pali, 
bearing a very close resemblance to the Sanscrit. 

It is supposed to have been about four hundred years 
after the Christian era, that a holy hermit went from India 
and established himself on a mountain in Central Thibet, 
thenceforth called Bouddha La, which signifies the Moun- 
tain of Bouddha. He soon attracted numerous disciples, 
who listened reverently to his teachings. Such was his 
reputation for holiness, that after his death the belief pre- 
vailed that he was Bouddha himself, who had again de- 
scended from Paradise, and assumed the form of a pious 
Vol. I.— 19* 


anchorite, in order to effect the salvation of the people of 
Thibet. He taught them their forms of prayer, and left 
them a book called, " The Body of Doctrine," ascribed to 
Bouddha, and also some works of his own, which are held 
in great veneration. These, and all the other Sacred 
Books of Eastern Asia, are written in a modification of 

The worship of Bouddha remained confined to the 
region about Bouddha La until six hundred and twenty- 
nine years after Christ, when prince Srong Dsan Gambo, 
the founder of Thibetian greatness, married a princess of 
China, and a princess of Nepal, both educated in that 
religion. They brought with them images of Fo, Sacred 
Books and relics, and caused a great number of temples 
and buildings for devotees to be erected. The king estab- 
lished himself on the sacred mountain, called Bouddha 
La, around which soon grew up the city of Lassa, the 
present capital of Thibet. This popular prince, who had 
achieved so much for the prosperity of his country, was 
believed to be the identical old saint, who more than two 
hundred years before had taught on Bouddha La, and who 
had now come back again into a human body, to establish 
his religion permanently in Thibet. Sects arose in opposi- 
tion to the new doctrines, either from attachment to some 
older form of faith, or from jealousy of the priestly power. 
Once the new religion was nearly overturned in a civil 
war between two rival brothers, contending for the throne, 
one in favour of Buddhism, and the other opposed to it. 
It suffered various vicissitudes until the close of our ele- 
venth century, when a son of the reigning monarch became 
a devotee of that religion, and his father made him Superior 
of a monastery built for him. He afterward succeeded to 
the throne, and was the first one in that country who united 
in himself the offices of High Priest and King. He also 
was declared to be the renowned old hermit of Bouddha 
La, who had reappeared on earth yet again to govern his 
beloved Thibet. 

This was the origin of that form of Buddhism called 


Lamaism. Lama means Pastor of Souls, and is the name 
applied to all the priests. Dalai Lama, or Grand Lama, 
means the Great Pastor, the Supreme Pontiff, who is at the 
head of all ecclesiastical and civil affairs in Thibet. The 
highest object of worship is Shigemooni, which is their 
variation of the name of Bouddha Sakia Mouni. The next 
is his disciple, the famous old hermit of Bouddha La, whose 
soul is supposed to be regularly transmitted through the 
succeeding Grand Lamas of Thibet, to watch over the 
people, whom he loved so well that he left Paradise to in- 
struct them in the true religion. When the Grand Lama 
dies, it is necessary to ascertain into what body his soul has 
passed. This can be done only by other Lamas, who fast 
and pray, and perform various ceremonies, to be guided 
aright. Those who think there are signs of his having ap- 
peared in their family, give information of it to the proper 
ecclesiastical authorities. The names of the candidates are 
written on little golden fish, which are shaken in an urn, 
and the first one taken out is proclaimed Grand Lama. He 
is carried to Lassa in triumphal procession, all the people 
prostrating themselves before him as he passes along. 
Disputes have sometimes arisen concerning the succession, 
and in some cases there have been bloody wars, causing 
the destruction of whole villages. But the belief remains 
deeply rooted that the immortal head of the church, by 
miraculous transmission of his soul, is always visibly present 
in the person of the Grand Lama, who is both pope and 
king. He is regarded as the vicegerent of God, with 
power to dispense divine blessings on whomsoever he will, 
either directly, or through the medium of subordinate 
Lamas. It is said fountains will flow at his command, 
even in the most parched deserts ; that flowers spring up 
wherever his feet have passed, and that his person exhales 
celestial fragrance. He is supposed to see and know 
everything, even in the deepest recesses of the heart, so 
that he never has occasion to inquire on any subject. He 
is called, "The Immaculate," "The active Creator and 
Governor of the present World," "He who has clair- 


voyant eyes," " The Word which produced the World." 
Thibet, China, the Mongols, and the Calmuck Tartars, ac- 
knowledge his sway. Crowds of pilgrims come with offer- 
ings from all quarters, to pay him homage, and obtain his 
blessing. Princes make the same prostrations and perform 
the same ceremonies as pilgrims of the meanest rank. He 
receives them seated on a splendid divan, in the attitude 
of the sacred images. He treats no one with more respect 
than another. He never rises, or uncovers his head, or 
salutes any one ; but merely lays his hand on the head of 
the worshipper, who believes he has thereby obtained 
pardon for his sins. He sometimes distributes little pieces 
of consecrated dough, which are used for amulets to charm 
away Evil Spirits. At stated seasons he visits some of the 
great theological establishments, to expound the Sacred 
Books, and his expositions are received as divine authority. 
On state occasions, he wears a yellow mitre, and a purple 
silk mantle fastened on the breast with a clasp. In his 
hand he carries a long staff in the form of a cross. Though 
Thibet is politically subject to China, the Chinese empe- 
ror is subject to the Grand Lama in all ecclesiastical mat- 

There are two other Lamas in Eastern Asia, believed to 
be incarnations of Bouddha, receiving his soul, or portions 
of it, by a similar process of transmission from generation 
to generation ; but their holiness is of inferior degree, and 
they are in all respects subordinate to the Grand Lama at 
Lassa. It is a very common thing for persons belonging 
to the religious orders to be regarded as resuscitations of 
deceased saints. These are distinguished by the epithet 
"twice born," or "thrice born." 

The powerful hierarchy, of which the Grand Lama is 
the head, consists of various ranks and classes. A High 
Lama is sent as nuncio to the Court of China, and supported 
there. There is an order called Spiritual Princes of the 
Law, and Masters of the Kingdom; these are the confi- 
dential advisers of the emperors. There are many large 
theological establishments called Lamaseries, exceedingly 


similar to the monasteries in Europe. The origin and 
growth of these associations may be briefly stated. It has 
already been said that in very ancient times Hindoo de- 
votees, in order to attain perfect holiness, withdrew from 
the world, and vowed themselves to chastity and poverty. 
The fame of their . sanctity attracted disciples, many of 
whom lived in grottoes or cells, in the vicinity of their 
teacher, thus forming a brotherhood of saints. When a 
distinct order of priests grew out of this beginning, young 
men and boys were sent into the forest to be educated by 
them for the priesthood. These were temporary associa- 
tions, which dispersed with change of circumstances. But 
the followers of Bouddha, being placed in opposition to the 
orthodox Hindoo religion, and relentlessly persecuted by 
its priests, naturally sought support and consolation by 
living together in congregations. As they were all de- 
votees in the beginning, they naturally adopted a regular 
routine of prayers and ceremonies, as their models, the 
Hindoo hermits, had done. Afterward, when whole nations 
adopted their faith, the worldly gave up the entire manage- 
ment of religious affairs to them. Thus they became a 
new order of priests, whose appropriate business it was to 
educate successors to the offices they held. Bouddha's 
greatest offence against the orthodox Bramins was that he 
opened the religious life to all castes and all nations. He 
is represented as saying: "All men are equal; and my 
doctrines are a favour and grace to all mankind." This was 
a fruitful source of reproach with the Bramins, who were 
wont to say, contemptuously : " He and his followers teach 
even mean and criminal men, and receive them most im- 
properly into a state of grace." Wherever his doctrines 
prevail, there is no hereditary priesthood, and the only 
distinctions are those which arise from difference of char- 
acter. Women, also, were included in his unpopular doc- 
trines of emancipation from the laws of caste. His followers 
could not overcome the prejudices of their native country 
in this respect, but in China and Thibet there are many 
associations of devout women, governed by the same laws 


that regulate the Lamaseries. Such establishments are 
under the spiritual direction of a man, there being no 
such class of women as the ancient priestesses, or modern 
abbesses. There were formerly convents of women in the 
Birman Empire, but government suppressed them as pre- 
judicial to population. Only old women are allowed to 
devote themselves to a life of celibacy. They shave their 
hair and wear white robes. They at first lived in the same 
building with men who had vowed themselves to a re- 
ligious life, but to prevent immoralities they were afterward 
divided into separate establishments. These women keep 
the temples in order, accompany funerals, bring water 
for ceremonies of purification, and other similar offices. 
"Women in Buddhist countries, as in all parts of Asia, are 
in an enslaved condition. Polygamy is allowed, and the 
wealthy sometimes have harems. 

In the Lamaseries there is a complicated division of 
ranks, each with appropriate duties, and all are bound to 
obey the Superior implicitly. It is common to place 
children of five or six years old in Lamaseries, where they 
learn to read and write, and perform various services about 
the house, At twenty-one years of age they can be re- 
ceived into the brotherhood, after examination. On these 
occasions the candidate is required to affirm solemnly that 
he is of the required age, that he was born in wedlock, that 
he has consent of parents, is in debt to no one, free from 
hereditary disease or bodily defect, not sprung from a race 
of dwarfs or giants, and not under the influence of sor- 
cerers, or Evil Spirits from the woods and mountains. 
These preliminaries being settled, the parents give a feast. 
Afterward, the young man shaves his head, and in token 
of renouncing old ties, he drops his name and takes an- 
other. If asked to what country he belongs, he replies : 
" I have no country. I spend my time in such or such a 
Lamasery." Every one is free to quit, whenever he judges 
it best to return to the world. Each member brings with 
him a cup, pitcher, dish, and mat to sleep on. They are 
forbidden to kindle a fire to prepare food for themselves. 


They must depend on the offerings of the charitable, or 
what they can gain by begging. Mendicants are generally 
sent out into the environs once a week, but they are not 
allowed to demand anything, or to manifest any dis- 
content when they are refused. They all take their meals 
together, it not being permitted to eat alone. They must 
not swallow food after sundown, or have a light in the 
evening, for fear of destroying some insect thereby. Some 
of the Lamas are so scrupulous on this point, that when 
they ride they are constantly turning their horses this way 
and that, to avoid trampling on some insect or reptile. If 
they chance to kill one, they fast and pray, and perform 
various ceremonies to atone for it. The more enlightened 
Lamas say they approve of such precautions, not because a 
human soul may have transmigrated into the animal, but 
because men of prayer, who seek to live in communion 
with the Deity, ought to be merciful and gentle toward all 
things. Though not allowed to kill any creature, they are 
permitted to eat the flesh of an animal that came to its 
death by accident. The laity in most Buddhist countries 
are not so scrupulous on this point, and if meat is offered 
to religious mendicants, they can often be induced to eat 
it, by assurances that the animal was not killed with the 
intention of offering it to them. What remains of their 
meals is not allowed to be reserved ; it must be distributed 
to the poor, or to strangers, or to the youths who attend 
the school, or even to animals. Consequently, these estab- 
lishments are always surrounded by a crowd of beggars. 
Inmates of the highest rank are as simple in dress and food 
as the lowest. The men are expressly forbidden to pass a 
night in the buildings appropriated to women, and women 
are not allowed to remain over night in any of the Lama- 
series. If the vow of perpetual chastity is violated, the 
culprit is severely punished, and for a second offence ex- 
pelled. It is said their manners are generally pure, which 
is more likely to be the case from their freedom to return 
to a worldly mode of life whenever they choose. Among 
the Birmans, the violation of their vow of chastity is pun- 


ished by death in the flames. The Sacred Books are very 
emphatic on this point. In the " Forty-Two Points of In* 
struction," it is said : " Bouddha, the Supreme of Beings 
manifesting his doctrine, pronounced these words : There 
is no passion more violent than voluptuousness. Happily 
there is but one such passion. If there were two, not a 
man in the whole universe could follow the truth." 

" Beware of fixing your eyes upon women ! If you 
find yourself in their company, let it be as though you 
were not present. If you speak with them, guard well 
your hearts. Let your conduct be irreproachable. Keep 
ever saying to yourselves : We Lamas, while we live in 
this world of corruption, must be like the Water Lily, 
which immersed in mud contracts no stain." 

" The man who walks in the path of holiness must re- 
member that the passions are as dry grass near a great fire. 
He who is jealous of his virtue, should flee on the first 
approach of the passions." 

" The man who, striving after holiness, endeavours to 
extirpate the roots of his passions, is like one passing the 
beads of a rosary through his fingers. By taking one bead 
after another, he easily attains the end ; so by conquering 
evil tendencies, one by one, the soul attains to perfec- 

Buddhists are not much addicted to self-tortures, which 
prevail so extensively in Hindostan. Celibacy and fre- 
quent fasts are the chief penances the religious impose 
upon themselves. But though they rarely follow the 
example of Bouddha in severe bodily inflictions, they are 
prone to imitate his habits of profound contemplation. At 
such times, they say his body remained perfectly motion- 
less, and his senses unaffected by any external object. He 
then became a recipient of divine revelations, which he 
communicated to his disciples. Those among his followers, 
who are desirous to obtain similar supernatural gifts, con- 
secrate a large portion of their time to profound meditation. 
Some of the Lamas become hermits, living in the holes 
of rocks, or in small wooden cells fastened to the sides of 


mountains. In some instances, these places are so inac- 
cessible, that food can be conveyed to them only by means 
of a bag let down with a long rope. Some inhabit gloomy 
and almost impenetrable forests, infested with tigers and 
serpents. Some of them live in communities in the deserts, 
or on the sides of mountains, each one in a little cave, or 
wooden cell. In some of these associations, it is part of 
their daily ceremonies to scourge themselves with a small 
whip. They consider this as an expiation for sins, which 
will be accepted in lieu of sufferings in another stage of 
existence. Some live on lonely islands, which can be ap- 
proached only in winter, on the ice. At that inclement 
season, the devout often carry them tea, butter, and rice, 
and receive in return blessings and prayers, which are 
believed to be very efficacious in producing fruitful pas- 
tures and numerous flocks. 

The Buddhists have in their temples many images of 
saints, who are believed to have obeyed the following pre- 
cept of their Sacred Books, and to have obtained the reward 
it promises: "Annihilate thyself; for as soon as thou 
ceasest to be thyself, thou wilt become one with God, and 
return into his being." Innumerable are the miracles 
ascribed to these saints, and to others who follow their 
example. Their garments, and the staffs with which they 
walk, are supposed to imbibe some mysterious power, and 
blessed are they who are allowed to touch them. It is a 
great branch of business in the Lamaseries to make images 
of the saints, and consecrate them to sell to devotees. 
Images of Bouddha himself of course rank above all others. 
Great is the merit of him who causes one to be made, and 
presents it to a temple. The priesthood have a tradition 
that Bouddha promised whoever consecrated an image to 
him should never go to any of the hells, or be born a slave 
or a woman, or be subject to blindness, deafness, or any 
deformity. Worshippers implore the intercession of saints 
to obtain forgiveness or blessings for them ; and there are 
many marvellous accounts of the images bowing their 
heads, and moving their lips, or eyes, in answer to such 
Vol. I.— 20 


prayers. Temples are often built in honour of saints, and 
their relics deposited in the most sacred part of the build- 
ing. These are believed to have the same power to work 
miracles which the saint himself possessed. Therefore, 
places where the most celebrated relics are preserved, 
attract crowds of pilgrims. In a temple at Ceylon is a 
tooth said to have been Bouddha's. It is kept in a golden 
case set with gems, and the case is enclosed within four 
others, all covered with costly jewels. Long pilgrimages 
are made to obtain a sight of it, and it is worshipped with 
profoundest veneration. 

Prayers, and pious maxims, printed on small bits of 
paper, command a ready sale at the Lamaseries. They 
have no moveable types, but print them coarsely from 
wooden blocks. Some of the Lamas obtain a living by 
transcribing the Sacred Books for purchasers. Some of 
their manuscript editions are really superb, with rich il- 
lustrations, and highly ornamented characters. Herbs 
gathered on sacred mountains, and holy water brought 
from sacred rivers, or consecrated by the benediction of 
priests, are profitable articles of commerce, because they 
are supposed to be invested with supernatural power 
to cure diseases, and keep off Evil Spirits. In Japan, 
the priests sell a form of words, which they assure pur- 
chasers will not only defend them against Evil Spirits 
in this world, but will serve as passports to felicity in 
the life to come. Some travellers assert that they 
borrow money for religious purposes, and promise an 
equivalent in the good things of Paradise. As security, 
they give the lender a writing, which he is to carry with 
him to the other world, to prove the amount of his claims. 
All Buddhists retain the old Hindoo belief that nearly all 
departed souls remain for a while in regions of punishment, 
graduated according to the sins they have committed in 
the body. There they go through a process of purification, 
by fire, water, and other means, and are thus prepared to 
ascend to such a degree of Paradise as is proportioned to 
their merits. Prayers and oblations from the living are 


supposed to be accepted by the Higher Powers, in lieu of 
these purifying sufferings ; therefore, the more prayers and 
gifts are offered, the shorter is the term of punishment. 
Priests are supposed to be divinely instructed concerning 
the most efficacious forms of prayers and ceremonies ; and 
in this way the pious affection of relatives and friends 
becomes a lucrative source of revenue to the Temples and 
Lamaseries as it was to the Bramins of Hindostan, from 
the most ancient times. 

Some of the Lamas are rich, others are poor. The offer- 
ings of pilgrims are divided among them according to their 
rank. Some of them manufacture hats, boots, and clothing 
for the establishment. Some keep cows and sell butter 
and milk to their brethren. Some spend all their time in 
collecting donations for the Temples and Lamaseries. The 
members of these religious communities are generally 
divided into four classes. The first class devote themselves 
to mysticism, or precepts of the contemplative life. The 
second study the Liturgy, and are expounders of religious 
ceremonies. The third prepare themselves for physicians, 
principally by the study of botany, as they use only vege- 
table medicines, concerning which they are said to possess 
much valuable information. The fourth class are called 
The Faculty of Prayers. They are expected to be able to 
recite by heart the prayers in the Sacred Books for all 
occasions. They are most in demand, and best paid, con- 
sequently the'most numerous. 

The Lamaseries are generally more or less endowed by 
the government, and there is good reason for it; for in 
them are concentrated all the intellectual cultivation there 
is in those countries. The Lamas are the only physicians, 
astronomers, architects, sculptors, and painters. They 
occupy themselves very much with the study and com- 
position of religious works. Their commentaries on the 
Sacred Books are very voluminous. At stated periods, 
people assemble in the temples to hear them read and 
explain the precepts of Bouddha, and other great saints. 
But their principal occupation is the education of youth ; 


not merely those devoted to priestly life, but also those 
intended for worldly professions. All the Lamaseries are 
schools, where instruction is given gratis, and poor children 
are fed. In China, Thibet, Birmah, and Japan, it is un- 
common to find a man belonging to the Buddhist religion, 
who is too ignorant to read and write. This is one of the 
good effects of breaking down the monopoly of privileged 
classes, so tenaciously preserved in ancient Egypt and 
Hindostan. In the upper class of seminaries, philosophy, 
astronomy, medicine, and theology are taught. It is true 
these studies are mixed up with magical rites, exorcisms 
to cast out Evil Spirits, and other ideas which indicate the 
infancy of knowledge ; but the literature which everywhere 
follows in the train of Buddhism, imperfect as it is, deserves 
the credit of waking up nations previously slumbering in 
profoundest ignorance. When Turner visited Thibet in 
1783, he found their teachers acquainted with the satellites 
of Jupiter, the ring of Saturn, and the use of mercury as a 

The discipline in these schools is very strict. The pupils 
sit in an open enclosure enduring the cold in winter and 
the heat in summer, while they listen to professors seated 
under a canopy, expounding the Sacred Books. Men with 
whips are in attendance, to punish the slightest infraction 
of the rules. If the students fail to recite the lessons or 
prayers given them to learn, they are severely whipped, or 
made to pass a cold night out of doors, with little or no 
clothing. They themselves say it is impossible to learn 
the prayers well, without being punished in the process. 
They told the French missionaries that all the Lamas who 
could not recite prayers perfectly, or cure diseases, or pre- 
dict the future correctly, were those who in youth had not 
been well beaten by their masters. 

The inmates of the Lamaseries are generally very bene- 
volent to the poor, and extremely hospitable and fraternal 
toward travellers and strangers. M. Hue, a Jesuit mis- 
sionary, speaks thus of his visit to the celebrated Lamasery 
of Kounboum, in Tartary : " The reception given us re 


called to our thoughts those monasteries raised by the hos- 
pitality of our own religious ancestors, in which travellers 
and the poor always found refreshment for the body and 
consolation for the soul." 

The more enlightened Lamas manifest a beautiful spirit 
of toleration toward, other religions. When the mission- 
aries Hue and Grabet expounded Christianity to some of 
the Lamas of Thibet, they listened respectfully, and quietly 
replied : "Well, we do not suppose that our prayers are 
the only prayers in the world." Upon one occasion, a 
Lama of high rank, one of the Incarnations of Bouddha, 
arrived with a numerous retinue at the inn where these 
missionaries had put up for the night. When he sought 
an interview with them, they treated him kindly, but with- 
out reverence, not rising when he entered, and remaining 
seated while talking with him, though everybody else 
prostrated themselves before hirn. He took no offence, 
but was extremely gentle and affable in his manners. A 
Roman Catholic Breviary was lying on the table, and he 
admired its gilded edges and rich binding. When they 
explained what it was, he raised it reverentially to his 
forehead, saying : " It is your book of prayer. We 
ought always to honour and respect prayer." He sup- 
posed them to be English, or Russians. When told they 
were French, he exclaimed: "Ah, the West contains so 
many kingdoms ! But what matter where you are from ? 
All men are _ brothers." In answer to some inquiries by 
the same missionaries, the Regent of Thibet replied: " Even 
if our laws did prohibit strangers from entering our coun- 
try, those laws could not affect you. Men of prayer belong 
to all countries. They are strangers nowhere. Such is 
the doctrine taught by our Holy Books." 

All the religious orders preserve old-fashioned simplicity 
with regard to food and raiment. None of them go with- 
out clothing, like some of the Hindoo devotees ; but some 
of them wear merely enough for purposes of modesty, and 
all dress very plainly. The universal colour of their gar- 
ments is deep yellow. In Birmah and Siam the persons 
Vol. I.— 20* 


of Lamas are inviolable, and the lands belonging to Lama- 
series are exempted from taxation. But the princes watch 
them with jealous eyes, and do not allow them to meddle 
in the least degree with political affairs. Any indulgence 
of sensual appetites is at once punished by a public and 
disgraceful expulsion from the brotherhood ; but this pen- 
alty is rarely incurred. It is probably owing to such 
restriction of power, and watchfulness over morals, that 
the clergy of Birmah are generally exemplary men, and 
have a respectable knowledge of literature, compared 
with other classes in Asia. Among the Lamas of Thibet, 
and other Buddhist countries, there are also many individ- 
uals of great worth and considerable learning ; but a large 
proportion of them are too ignorant to understand the 
Sanscrit prayers, which they repeat by rote. Among the 
Calmucks there is an inferior order of the clergy, who are 
allowed to marry ; and innovations of this kind have crept 
into some other countries. But celibacy is everywhere 
required of those who fill the higher offices of the priest- 

As the early devotees changed into a numerous and 
powerful body of priests, they gradually relaxed in devo- 
tional exercises that required much effort, and substituted 
in their stead an endless routine of ceremonies. The sound 
of the tom-tom and gong is perpetually heard from the 
Lamaseries, summoning the inmates to the performance of 
some rite. They have prayers and chants three times a 
day, morning, noon, and evening, as the Bramins did in 
Hindoo forests, ages and ages ago. Like them, also, they 
practise daily ablutions, and place offerings on the tombs 
of ancestors, with prayers to shorten the term of unhappy 
transmigration for their souls. They have a great number 
of prescribed formulas, among which they regard as most 
efficacious their six mystic syllables, " Om mani padma 
koum" said to have been revealed to them by the first old 
anchorite on Bouddha La. A vast number of commenta- 
ries have been written to explain these holy words. Om 
is the mystic term to express the Creative Word. Mani 


is said to signify a gem ; padma, a lotus ; and houm, amen. 
They attach as much value to this phrase, as Hindoos do 
to Om and the Oayatri. To repeat it often and devoutly 
is thought to be the most efficacious mode of escaping from 
unhappy transmigrations, and of becoming finally absorbed 
in Bouddha. People are continually saying over these 
syllables on their rosaries, they are repeated thousands of 
times in their public ceremonies, and are everywhere in- 
scribed on the walls of temples, the rocks of sacred moun- 
tains, the banners carried in procession, and the flags float- 
ing over their doors. Rich devotees maintain, at their own 
expense, companies of Lamas to travel over hill and dale, 
carving this sacred formula on rocks and stones. Both 
priests and people attribute magical virtue to the recitation 
of these syllables, independent of the thought or feeling 
with which they are pronounced. One of the religious 
writers of Thibet says : u Mount Sumeru can be weighed 
in a balance ; the great ocean can be drained drop by drop ; 
the immense forests of the kingdom of snows (Thibet) can 
be reduced to ashes, and the atoms of these ashes can be 
counted ; the drops of a continual rain during twelve 
months might be numbered ; but the virtues of a single 
recitation of these six syllables are incalculable." 

Like the Hindoo hermits of very ancient times, they 
make use of long rosaries of seed, or beads. Devotees may 
be continually met, fingering their beads as they walk, 
and repeating, " Om mani padma houm" Some of their 
rosaries are very richly ornamented. In all the great 
Lamaseries they have machines which resemble a barrel 
and turn on an axle. They are composed of a vast num- 
ber of sheets of paper, written all over with prayers, and 
pasted together till they form a substance thick as a board. 
When set in motion, it turns of itself for a long while, and 
he who turns has the merit of having said all the prayers 
it contains. Sometimes quarrels arise among the devotees, 
because one comes and stops the barrel set in motion by 
another, and turns it again for his own benefit. All the 
streams near Lamaseries are interrupted by dams, con- 


structed for tlie purpose of turning numerous prayer- wheels, 
the motion of which is considered equivalent to repeating 
prayers day and night for those who erected them. The 
Tartars place them over their fireplaces, where, being 
moved by the draught, they are supposed to repeat prayers 
incessantly for the safety and prosperity of the household. 
In Japan, almost every mountain, hill, and cliff, is sacred 
to some presiding saint, to whom travellers are requested, 
by inscribed tablets, to address prayers as they pass. As 
this would occupy too much time, upright posts are placed 
on the roadside, with an iron plate fastened on the top ; 
and turning a plate is equivalent to repeating a prayer. 

Priests teach that whosoever consecrates a son or a 
daughter to the monastic life, is not only a religious bene- 
factor, but thereby becomes a relation of Bouddha. The 
princess Sanghamitta and her brother are mentioned in 
early records as having been thus consecrated by their 
royal parents. They wrought many miracles, "became 
like the Sun and the Moon, illuminating the whole land 
with the religion of Bouddha," and finally, while yet in 
the body, attained complete absorption into the Supreme 
Being. A princess in Ceylon hearing the renown of their 
sanctity, became interested to know by what process it was 
acquired ; and Sanghamitta went to that island, to initiate 
her into the holy life. Several other women joined them, 
and lived together in secluded apartments, where they 
spent their time in contemplation and prayer. This is 
supposed to have been the beginning of Buddhist nun- 

Lamas are exceedingly numerous. In the Chinese 
empire alone there are reckoned to be more than a mil- 
lion. In Tartary, all the male children, except the oldest 
sons, are brought up as Lamas. In Siam they are called 
Talapoins; in China, Ho Chang; but European writers 
generally style all Buddhist monks and priests, Bonzes. 
The reverence bestowed on saintly character, and the 
facility of obtaining a living by assuming it, are of course 
strong temptations to the indolent and selfish, who practise 


many impositions on the credulous people* The old 
Asiatic idea that diseases are occasioned by Evil Spirits, 
who have taken possession of the human body, and can be 
cast out by forms of prayer, or at the command of holy 
men, is universally believed. In Tartary, rich families are 
sometimes told that it is necessary to give the demon a rich 
suit of clothes, or a valuable horse, to induce him to depart. 
"When the required articles are bestowed, the Lamas recite 
prayers and perform ceremonies, a week or fortnight, till 
the invalid is either dispossessed of the demon, or dies. In 
the latter case, mourners are comforted by the assurance 
that his soul has transmigrated to a much happier state 
than it possibly could have done without their prayers. 
Sometimes they make an image to represent the Evil 
Spirit, on which they pronounce curses, accompanied by 
furious gestures and the din of noisy instruments, and at 
last they set fire to the image. The expense of casting out 
a devil sometimes proves ruinous to the fortune of a 
patient. Such practices are disapproved by the better sort 
of Lamas. The Superior of one of the Lamaseries said to 
the French missionaries : " When a person is ill, the recita- 
tion of prayers is proper ; for Bouddha is the master of 
life and death. It is he who rules the transmigration of 
beings. To take remedies is also fitting; for the great 
virtue of medicinal herbs comes to us from Bouddha. 
That devils may possess rich persons is credible, but to 
give them horses, garments, and other rich presents to in- 
duce them to depart, is a fiction invented by ignorant and 
deceiving Lamas, who thus try to accumulate wealth at 
the expense of their brothers." 

Many of the devotees have no settled abode, but are 
always wandering about asking alms. In Japan especially, 
crowds of men and women, with shaven heads, are trav- 
ersing the country in all directions, living at the expense 
of the industrious. The character of many of them is said 
to be far from stainless. Sometimes they attempt to excite 
compassion by fastening to their neck and feet a heavy 
chain, which they drag through the streets with great 


effort. They stop before the houses and cry out pitifully : 
" You see how much it costs us to expiate your sins. Can 
you not afford us some trifling alms?" Sometimes they 
hire men to carry them through the streets in a chair stuck 
over with a thousand nails, in such a manner that it is 
impossible to stir without being wounded. To those who 
pass by, the devotee proclaims : " Behold, I am shut up in 
this chair for the good of your souls. I am resolved never 
to leave it till all the nails are bought. Every nail is 
worth sixpence. If you buy one, it will certainly become 
a source of happiness to you and your families, and you 
will also perform a religious act; for you will bestow 
charity not on the priests, but on the Grod Fo himself, for 
whom we intend to build a temple." 

In view of these extravagances, it is just to remember 
that they are disapproved by the more enlightened. The 
Regent of Thibet said to the French missionaries : " You 
have doubtless seen and heard much to blame in Tartary 
and Thibet, but you must not forget that the numerous 
errors and superstitions you may have observed were in- 
troduced by ignorant Lamas, and are rejected by well- 
informed Buddhists." 

The spirit of pilgrimage prevails to a great extent. 
Around the most celebrated Lamaseries there is a continual 
putting up and pulling down of tents, and the coming and 
going of pilgrims from far and near, on oxen, horses, or 
camels. One of the penances they impose upon them- 
selves is to make the circuit of the Lamaseries, prostrating 
themselves, with their foreheads to the ground, at every 
step. When the buildings are of considerable extent, it is 
difficult to complete the circuit thus in the course of a long 
day. They must not pause to take nourishment, for if the 
prostrations are once suspended after they are begun, all 
the merit of the performance is lost. At each prostration 
the body must be stretched flat on the ground, the forehead 
touching the ground, the arms spread out, and the hands 
joined as if in prayer. They continue this through driving 
storms and the keenest cold. Others perform the circuit 


carrying a load of books, the weight of which is prescribed 
by the Lamas. When the task is completed they are 
deemed to have recited all the prayers contained in the 
books they carry. Some merely walk the circuit, telling 
the beads of their long rosaries, or turning a prayer- wheel, 
which they carry in their right hand. Some pilgrims un- 
dertake fearfully long journeys, prostrating themselves at 
every step. Near Lassa is a high mountain, rugged and 
almost inaccessible. The pilgrim who clambers to the top 
of it is thought to have obtained remission of all his sins. 
The offerings of the pilgrims are a great source of revenue 
to the Lamaseries. When a devotee of wealth or rank 
presents himself, one of the Incarnations of Bouddha 
usually presides over the ceremony of reception. His 
share in the offerings is fifty ounces of silver, a piece of 
red or yellow silk, a pair of boots and a mitre, arranged in 
a basket decorated with flowers and ribbons, and covered 
with a rich scarf. The pilgrim prostrates himself on the 
steps of the altar, and places the basket at the feet of the 
representative of Bouddha. A pupil takes it up, and in 
return presents a scarf to the pilgrim. The Superior 
Lama preserves meanwhile the impassive character suited 
to an embodied Divinity. 

The humble huts of the primitive devotees of this 
religion gradually changed into spacious and elegant 
mansions. At the present day, Lamaseries are the most 
beautiful edifices in Asia, except the royal palaces. They 
are usually situated in picturesque and solitary places, 
especially on the tops of mountains. Adjoining them is 
always a temple dedicated to Bouddha, or some saint. 
They usually terminate in a pyramid, which is a form of 
architecture sacred to gods, priests, and kings. Eich men, 
who wish to expiate their sins, and purchase happiness in 
a future existence, often build and endow them for public 
hospitals and seminaries. If they are well situated, and 
have ample funds, devotees do not fail to present themselves 
in sufficient numbers to fill them speedily. Sometimes 
separate houses are enclosed within a high wall; some- 


times one large building is divided into various suites of 
apartments ; kitchen, hospital, prison, barber's office, trea- 
sury, dining hall, library, reception room for strangers, 
and sleeping apartments. These buildings are exceedingly 
numerous. The city of Lassa alone contains three thou- 
sand. Of course the most magnificent of them all is on 
the famous old mountain of Bouddha La, where the Supreme 
Pontiff of all the Lamas has his permanent residence. It 
is an aggregation of edifices, in the centre of which rises 
the temple of the Grand Lama, four stories high, and over- 
looking them all. It terminates in a dome entirely covered 
with golden plates, and surrounded with a peristyle, the 
columns of which are covered with gold. It contains a 
vast number of apartments, adorned with innumerable 
pyramids of gold and silver, and a great number of sacred 
images made of the same precious metals. Within the 
precincts of this Lamasery reside twenty thousand Lamas, 
whose principal occupation it is to serve and honour the 
Incarnation of Bouddha. Devotees will live very sparingly, 
and even suffer for food and clothing, that they may save 
money enough, to make a pilgrimage to this holy place, 
and purchase perfumes to burn before the images. Strongly 
odorous flowers are a favourite offering, and they burn 
large quantities of the fragrant sandal-wood for incense. 
Winding-sheets consecrated by the Grand Lama, and 
covered with printed sentences from the Sacred Books, are 
sold in large numbers, it being supposed that those who 
are buried in them are sure of a happy transmigration. 
There have been some instances of pilgrims throwing 
themselves headlong from the steep rocks, as soon as they 
had completed their prayers and ceremonies ; believing 
that their souls were then in a purified state, and sure of 
going directly to Paradise. There is a continual throng 
coming and going around Bouddha La, but they observe a 
profound and reverential silence. Two avenues lined with 
magnificent trees connect the mountain with the city of 
Lassa, about a mile distant. Here are swarms of pilgrims 
continually passing to and fro, reciting the mystic syllables 


on their long rosaries. Id the sanctuary of the central 
temple, resplendent with gold and brilliant colours, is 
placed a rich divan for the Grand Lama. At the hour 
appointed for prayer a large conch is sounded toward the 
four cardinal points. The great gate opens, and the Grand 
Lama walks in and seats himself. The attendant Lamas 
leave their boots in the vestibule, enter barefoot, and 
prostrate themselves three times before him. They then 
seat themselves in a circle, each according to his dignity. 
The signal for prayer is given by tinkling a little bell, fol- 
lowed by psalms in double chorus. Kings and noble per- 
sonages flock to this shrine from all quarters, and enrich 
the temple with costly offerings. 

Tartar Lamaseries are not to be compared with those of 
Thibet in extent or wealth, but some of them are splendid 
edifices. The Tartars are exceedingly frugal in their own 
dress and mode of living, but lavish in everything con- 
nected with worship. Lamas travel all over the country, 
from tent to tent, with authenticated passports, begging, in 
the name of Bouddha, for money to build a temple or a 
Lamasery. The rich give ingots of gold or silver ; the less 
prosperous give camels, horses, or oxen; and even the 
poorest cheerfully offer furs and hair ropes. In this way, 
immense sums are collected, wherewith superb structures 
are erected in the deserts. Among these the most venerated 
is the Lamasery of Kounboum, famous to the remotest con- 
fines of Tartary. The following are the traditions concern- 
ing it. A woman, who had become old and was childless, 
fainted and fell senseless on a rock, whereon was inscribed 
various sentences in honour of Bouddha. From contact 
with these holy words, she conceived and bore a miraculous 
son, named Tsong Kaba. When he was born, he had a 
white beard and a majestic countenance, and immediately 
began to utter wise sayings concerning the nature and 
destiny of man. At three years old, he resolved to re- 
nounce the world, and devote himself to religious contem- 
plation. His mother reverently approved his purpose, and 
prepared him by shaving his head, throwing his fine long 
Vol. L— 21 L 


hair outside the tent. Instantly there sprang from it a 
tree, which exhaled exquisite fragrance, and on every leaf 
were inscribed characters in the sacred language. Tsong 
Kaba spent his days on summits of the wildest mountains, 
or in the recesses of deep ravines ; fasting, praying, and 
meditating on divine things. He tasted no flesh, and 
respected the life of the minutest insect. At eighty- two 
years old, he died ; or, according to their mode of speaking, 
" he ascended to the Heaven of Rapture, and was absorbed 
in Bouddha." The mountain at the foot of which he was 
born, became a famous place of pilgrimage. Lamas from 
all parts assembled there and built cells; and thus by 
degrees was formed the Lamasery of Kounboum, whose 
name signifies Ten Thousand Images, in allusion to the 
marvellous tree, which sprang from the hermit's hair, with 
characters in the sacred writing on all its leaves. When 
the emperor Khang Hi made a pilgrimage to this place, he 
erected a silver dome over the tree. Plants gathered on 
this sacred mountain are bought by pilgrims at a great 
price. The young students of botany go out in troops and 
gather great quantities of herbs and roots, which are stored 
for sale. 

The Buddhist temples are covered inside and out with 
carvings in wood or stone, representing lions, tigers, ele- 
phants, birds, reptiles, and all sorts of animals, real and 
imaginary. Some of these works are executed with great 
delicacy and beauty. The interior is filled with paintings 
and statues, illustrating the life of Bouddha, and the 
various transmigrations of celebrated saints. The Lamas 
themselves are the only artists employed in these decora- 
tions, which are generally of a fantastic character. Most 
of the personages represented in the statues and medallions 
have a monstrous and grotesque appearance. Bouddha 
alone is an exception. He is always represented noble and 
majestic, with large full eyes and long curling hair. The 
Lamas are less successful in painting, than in sculpture, 
being faulty in their drawing, and partial to gaudy colour- 
ing. But, according to the testimony of M. Hue, they 


sometimes produce specimens of considerable beauty. 
While travelling among the Mongols, he says: "In a 
great temple, called the Temple of Gold, we saw a picture 
which struck us with astonishment. It was a life-size 
representation of Bouddha, seated on a rich carpet, sur- 
rounded by a kind of glory, composed of miniatures 
allegorically representing his thousand virtues. This pic- 
ture was remarkable for the expression of the faces, the 
gracefulness of the design, and the splendour of the 
colouring. All the personages seemed full of life. An 
old Lama, who attended us, told us it was a treasure of re- 
motest antiquity, comprehending on its surface the whole 
doctrine of Bouddha ; that it was not a Mongol painting, 
but came from Thibet, and was executed by a saint of The 
Eternal Sanctuary," meaning the temple where the Grand 
Lama resides. Borri, a Jesuit missionary to Cochin China, 
says he saw an empty recess behind the high altar in 
Buddhist temples, and, upon inquiry, was informed that it 
was consecrated to the Supreme Being, who was invisible 
and incomprehensible, and therefore not to be represented 
by any image. 

The monuments of Buddhist devotion are exceedingly 
numerous. On the terrace of a very old temple at Gaya, 
the following inscription, in the Birman language, was 
found a few years since : " This is one of the eighty-four 
thousand shrines erected by Sri Dharm Asoka, ruler of the 
world, at the end of the two hundred and eighteenth year 
of Bouddha's annihilation." Some remains of the places 
of worship are immensely massive, and bear marks of ex- 
treme antiquity. Mr. Knox, speaking of Ceylon, says: 
" The votaries of Bouddha took pride in erecting temples 
and monuments to his memory, as if they had been born 
solely to hew rocks and great stones, and lay them in 
heaps." The largest of the subterranean temples on that 
island is one hundred and ninety feet long, and forty-five 
feet high. It contains a recumbent figure of Bouddha, 
thirty feet in length. One of the most remarkable of these 
stupendous structures is the gigantic temple in Java, called 


Boro Buddor. It is in a ruinous condition, but full of 
elaborate carving and colossal images. In Meaco, a city 
of Japan, is a magnificent temple erected to Dai Bod, by 
which they mean the God Bouddha. It contains the image 
of a gigantic Bull, butting his horns against the Mundane 
Egg. This huge animal is said to be formed of massive 
gold, with a collar about his neck adorned with precious 
stones. The egg is on the surface of a large stone basin 
filled with water, in which the feet of the bull are im- 
mersed. The basis of the whole is a large square 
altar, engraved with many ancient characters. Prints of 
Bouddha's feet are shown on rocks in various countries. 
Several of these rocks are covered with sculptured writing, 
and on some of them he is represented as crushing a serpent 
under his heel. This was probably intended to signify 
that by his ascension he vanquished death. There are the 
same representations of Crishna on very ancient monu- 
ments in Hindostan, doubtless for the same reason, for the 
serpent was a common Oriental emblem for the destruction 
of life. 

The Buddhists are exceedingly devout; but, with the 
exception of a few contemplative Lamas, they are not in- 
clined to mysticism. They are generally fond of pageantry, 
such as showy processions to their temples and sacred 
places, and imposing ceremonies in the Lamaseries. They 
delight in pungent perfumes and gorgeous colours. Their 
worship is of a clamorous character, consisting of loud 
chants and prayers, accompanied by large and noisy instru- 
ments, such as gongs, drums, cymbals, trumpets, and fifes. 
They make frequent prostrations on their house-tops, and 
are always fingering a rosary, or murmuring prayers, even 
while engaged in their daily avocations. "As evening 
twilight approaches, all the Thibetian men, women and chil- 
dren, stop business and meet together in the public squares, 
where they all kneel down and chant prayers. In a large 
town, these sounds produce an immense solemn harmony. 
These vesper prayers vary according to the season of the 


They have solemn ceremonies to welcome the new moon 
and the full moon, and changes of the seasons. On the 
last day of the full moon all the Lamas in Tartary assem- 
ble at midnight, in state mantles and mitres, and chant 
prayers. The ceremony is concluded with loud cries, ac- 
companied by a tremendous noise of drums, trumpets, and 
conch shells. This custom is said to have been estab- 
lished to drive away Evil Spirits, which infested the people 
and cattle. 

On certain occasions, the Tartar Lamas recite prescribed 
formulas, and toss up little pictures of horses in the air, 
with the belief that Bouddha will transform the bits of 
paper into living horses, for the relief of travellers in the 

There are festivals during which the Buddhists, in some 
countries, scourge themselves before the altars, as did the 
votaries of Isis in ancient Egypt. The degree of sin ex- 
piated is according to the number and severity of the 

The Feast of Lanterns in China bears strong resemblance 
to a Hindoo custom, and to the Egyptian festival in honour 
of Neith. On that evening every Chinese throughout the 
empire lights a lantern. Gorgeous lanterns of painted 
glass, illuminated with torches, are suspended from all the 
arches and towers. It is said two hundred millions of 
lamps are burning on that occasion. 

In Birmah a white elephant is kept near the royal 
palace, sumptuously fed and magnificently caparisoned. 
People prostrate themselves before him, and bring valuable 
offerings, which he is taught to take with his trunk. This 
homage is said to originate in a belief that the soul of 
Bouddha once animated a white elephant in the course of 
its manifold transmigrations. 

The doctrines and ceremonies of Buddhism vary con- 
siderably in different countries. This must necessarily 
happen to all religions that are extensively embraced ; 
because a new faith unavoidably mixes with the previous 
ideas and customs of nations where it is introduced. Bud- 
Vol. I.— 21* 


dhism was peculiarly subject to such admixture ; "because 
its teachers, wishing to avoid any coercive measures for the 
propagation of their religion, invariably adopted into their 
system all the deities their proselytes had been accustomed 
to revere. Thus Brahma, Yishnu, Siva, Indra, the Gods of 
the Mongols, and the Spirits of the Chinese, all found a 
place in their legends, and were imaged in their temples, 
though always represented as inferior to Bouddha and his 
Saints. But though details vary much in different coun- 
tries, the prominent features of Buddhism are everywhere 
the same. They all believe in One Invisible Source of 
Being, sometimes called The Supreme Intelligence, some- 
times named The Yoid. From him emanated all things in 
the universe, and into him will all things eventually return. 
Not only this world will be destroyed and renovated, at 
stated periods, after immense intervals, but even those 
superior Spheres where happy Spirits dwell, must go 
through similar revolutions, and all the inhabitants pass 
into other forms. Whenever this world is created anew, 
Spirits who have so far wandered from the Supreme as to 
dwell in the lowest Paradise, will be sent into material 
bodies, for probationary discipline. Among them will be 
many who had been previously embodied on the old earth, 
before it was destroyed. After millions and millions of 
ages, the time will at last come, when everything in the 
universe, even the deities themselves, will be merged in 
the Original Source whence they came. Then new emana- 
tions will again commence, followed by new worlds, which 
will be again destroyed. Nothing is exempted from this 
perpetual, ever-revolving change, except those souls who, 
through perfect holiness, have become absorbed into the 
Supreme Being, and have thus become One with Him. 
Bouddha is said to have appeared four times, in worlds 
preceding this ; and always with the benevolent purpose 
of withdrawing Spirits from the vortex of illusions, in 
which they were involved by their immersion in Matter. 
Into this present world he descended in the form of Bouddha 
Sakia. His mother was a beautiful and holy virgin, be- 


trothed to a king; and his birth was foretold in a miracu- 
lous dream. The object of his mission was to instruct 
those who were straying from the right path, expiate the 
sins of mortals by his own sufferings, and procure for them 
a happy entrance into another existence, by obedience to 
his precepts and prayers in his name. They always speak 
of him as one with (xod from all eternity. They describe 
him as M one substance, and three images." His most 
common title is " The Saviour of the "World," As he has 
repeatedly assumed a human form, to facilitate the reunion 
of men with his own Universal Soul, so they believe that 
there always will be incarnations of his Spirit Chinese 
Sacred Books predict the coming of a new Fo in the latter 
days, whose mission it will be to restore the world to order 
and happiness. 

They all believe in the pre- existence of souls. The forms 
they take are merely transient apparent images ; as metal 
may be moulded into the form of a lion, then dissolved 
into a mass of metal again, then be remoulded into the 
form of a man or a god. They never say a man is dead ; 
they always say " his soul has emigrated," The connection 
of the soul with matter they consider an evil and a punish- 
ment; therefore enjoyment through the senses is incom- 
patible with holiness, and it is necessary to despise the 
body and the outward world, in order to become saints. 
There are regions of Paradise, and regions of torment, 
where souls are rewarded or punished according to the 
exact amount of their deserts, before they again enter into 
some mortal form. These heavens and hells, of various 
degrees, are painted with great luxury of imagination by 
theologians. The lower the regions, the more unhappv 
the inhabitants, the more subject to miserable transmigra- 
tions. The higher the celestial abodes, the purer the bliss, 
and the more extended its duration. But even the highest 
spheres are not exempted from revolutions, consisting of 
the destruction of old forms, and the creation of new ones ; 
though this will be after intervals so immense, that they 
seem like eternity. 


The most important moral laws are contained in ten pre* 
cepts in their Sacred Books ; the number .ten being con- 
sidered essential. According to the Hindoo custom of 
arranging everything in threes, they divide moral duties 
into three classes ; those which relate to actions, to words, 
and to thoughts. The first three commandments relate to 
actions, the next four to words, and the last three to 
thoughts, as follows : 1. " Thou shalt not kill, even the 
smallest creature." 2. " Thou shalt not appropriate to 
thyself what belongs to another." 3. " Thou shalt not 
infringe the laws of chastity." 4. " Thou shalt not lie." 
5. " Thou shalt not calumniate." 6. " Thou shalt not 
speak of injuries." 7. "Thou shalt not excite quarrels, 
by repeating the words of others." 8. " Thou shalt not 
hate." 9. " Preserve faith in the holy writings." 10. 
" Believe in immortality." 

The ignorant among the Buddhists, as among the 
Hindoos, attach inherent virtue to the mere words of their 
Sacred Books. A thief, who concealed himself in the im- 
perial palace, was discovered and seized by the officers. 
"When they stripped him of his clothes, they found every 
inch of his body covered with texts from the Sacred Books 
of Fo. He had an idea that no harm could possibly come 
to him while he was thus covered with holy words. 

William von Humboldt says of Buddhism : " What was 
once a philosophical doctrine and an enlightened benevo- 
lent reform of the corruptions of Braminism, has degener- 
ated into a mass of unmeaning practices and empty formulas, 
or lost itself in a wholly unintelligible mysticism." It must 
be remembered, however, that in all ages, and among all 
nations, there are some minds which save themselves, by 
an inward process, from the lifelessness of the forms they 

Little is known, and still less understood, concerning 
theological controversies in those distant countries. Euro- 
pean activity of mind is not at work there, to unsettle 
established opinions, but they doubtless bear a general 
resemblance to the rest of mankind, in diversity of ideas 


concerning spiritual problems puzzling to us all. Though 
firm believers in unalterable necessity, they strive to recon- 
cile it with the free will of man. Some of them rely 
chiefly on meditation and faith, the inward operations of 
the mind; others attach more importance to meritorious 
works and outward ceremonies. In Thibet are two pro- 
minent sects, distinguished by their head-dresses. Those 
who consider it allowable for the religious to marry, wear 
red caps. The advocates of strict celibacy, who are much, 
more numerous, wear yellow caps. On what other points 
their opinions differ is not well understood by foreigners. 
From time to time, they have been troubled with heretical 
sects, whose teachers assumed the yellow robe of the priest- 
hood without the sanction of ecclesiastical authorities ; and 
Councils have been called to purify orthodox Buddhism 
from their alleged impieties. 

Buddhists of all sects have always abominated bloody 
sacrifices, and they carry tenderness toward animals to an 
extreme degree. Their doctrines likewise induce a chari- 
table disposition toward men. Believing transmigrations 
of the soul to be regulated by laws of inherent necessity, 
the religious among them feel for sinners more compassion 
than contempt or hatred ; for they consider moral evil as 
much a misfortune as a crime. One of their common 
maxims is that " the preceding births, and the actions com- 
mitted in those previous existences, are destiny." This 
tendency to fatality checks all energy and enterprise, and 
does much to produce the drowsy apathy which character- 
izes Asiatic countries. 

European writers have brought against Buddhists the 
general charge of atheism. This apparently arises from 
the fact that their founder named the Source of Being the 
Infinite Void; from extreme unwillingness to ascribe any 
form, or any passions, to the Deity. When dying, he is 
said to have declared to his disciples, as a secret doctrine, 
unsuited to the populace, that, in the course of revolving 
ages, all things in the universe, even the gods themselves, 
would return into The Yoid, to be reproduced again in new 



forms. This repetition of the astronomical theory of the 
ancient Bramins has led to the idea that he and his followers 
were atheists. There is said to be a sect among them called 
Karnikas, who ascribe consciousness and moral activity to 
the First Principle, and believe that creation resulted from 
the exercise of his will, not from laws of inherent necessity. 

There is much contradiction among writers concerning 
the date of the Buddhist religion. This confusion arises 
from the fact that there are several Bouddhas, objects of 
worship ; because the word is not a name, but a title, sig- 
nifying an extraordinary degree of holiness. Those who 
have examined the subject most deeply have generally 
agreed that Bouddha Sakia, from whom the religion takes 
its name, must have been a real historical personage, who 
appeared more than a thousand years before Christ. There 
are many things to confirm this supposition. In some por- 
tions of India, his religion appears to have flourished for a 
long time side by side with that of the Bramins. This is 
shown by the existence of many ancient temples, some of 
them cut in subterranean rock, with an immensity of labour, 
which it must have required a long period to accomplish. 
In those old temples, his statues represent him with hair 
knotted all over his head, which was a very ancient custom 
with the anchorites of Hindostan, before the practice of 
shaving the head was introduced among their devotees. 
His religion is also mentioned in one of the very ancient 
epic poems of India. The severity of the persecution 
indicates that their numbers and influence had become 
formidable to the Bramins, who had everything to fear 
from a sect which abolished hereditary priesthood, and 
allowed the holy of all castes to become teachers. 

Buddhism spread through foreign countries with such 
rapidity, that it came to be generally designated as " the 
religion of the Vanquisher," although it was uniformly 
peaceful in its progress. For the same reason, the Banyar 
Tree, of rapid and interminable growth, was chosen as its 
emblem. Marvellous stories are told of the Banyan Tree 
under which Bouddha Sakia, as a holy anchorite, attained 


to complete union with the Supreme Soul. Shoots taken 
from it were said to send forth roots instantly, and to con- 
firm the faith of the doubtful by ascending into the air, and 
floating among the clouds, surrounded by a brilliant halo. 

Buddhism was introduced into Japan five or six hundred 
years after Christ. The Japan Encyclopedia enumerates 
thirty- three ancient patriarchs, or leaders of this religion, 
the first of whom received the doctrines and writings from 
Bouddha himself. These men devoted themselves to fast- 
ing, prayer, and constant meditation. Several of them 
burned themselves to death, that the soul might be released 
from imprisonment in the body, and through the intense 
purification of fire pass into a happier state of existence. 
Pictures and images of these patriarchs abound in the 
temples, and are held in religious veneration. 

It is said that eighty thousand followers of Bouddha 
went forth from Hindostan, as missionaries to other lands ; 
and the traditions of various countries are full of legends 
concerning their benevolence, holiness, and miraculous 
power. His religion has never been propagated by the 
sword. It has been effected entirely by the influence of 
peaceable and persevering devotees. It now prevails in 
China, Japan, Thibet, Siam, the Birman Empire, Ceylon, 
and a large portion of Tartary. The era of the Siamese is 
the death of Bouddha. In Ceylon, they date from the in- 
troduction of his religion into their island. It is supposed 
to be more "extensively adopted than any religion that ever 
existed. Its votaries are computed at four hundred mil- 
lions ; more than one-third of the whole human race. 

Pilgrims from all these countries visit Benares, and other 
holy cities of India, which they all revere as the fountain- 
head of their Religion. They speak of it as " The King- 
dom of Virtues," " The Exceeding Pure Region," " The 
Sacred Land." 



'Chaldean shepherds, ranging trackless fields, 
Looked on the Polar Star, as on a guide 
And grardian of their course, that never closed 
His steadfast eye. The Planetary Five 
With a submissive reverence they beheld ; 
Watched from the centre of their sleeping flocks 
Those radiant Mercuries, that seemed to move, 
Carrying through ether, in perpetual round, 
Decrees and resolutions of the Gods ; 
And, by their aspects, signifying works 
Of dim futurity, to man revealed." 

"The Persian, zealous to reject 
Altar and image, and the inclusive walls 
And roofs of temples built by human hands, 
Presented sacrifice to Moon and Stars, 
And the whole Circle of the Heavens ; for him 
A sensitive Existence and a God." Wordsworth. 

Egyptians affirmed that Chaldea was settled by a colony 
from their country ; but many learned men believe that 
Egypt was younger than Chaldea, and settled by emigrants 
from thence. It is a matter of mere conjecture, for Chal- 
dean literature is all destroyed, and their famous capital, 
Babylon, being mostly built of bricks and bitumen, has 
left no vestiges by which to reckon historical dates. When 
Alexander the Great conquered the city, Chaldean priests 
boasted to the Greek philosophers, who followed his army, 
that they had continued their astronomical calculations 
through a period of more than forty thousand years. The 
earliest records actually found by the Greeks extended 
back two thousand two hundred and thirty-four years be- 
fore the Christian era; only one hundred and fourteen 
years after our commonly received epoch of the Flood. 


The great antiquity of Chaldea cannot be doubted, and its 
intimate connection with Hindostan, or Egypt, is abun- 
dantly proved by the little that is known concerning its 
religion, and by the few fragments that remain of its former 
grandeur. The ruins of "Nineveh have lately been ex- 
cavated, after having lain concealed from the eye of man 
for two thousand five hundred years. Obelisks, and gi- 
gantic sphinxes have thus been brought to light, and images 
of the sacred bull, often represented winged and with a 
human head. The sun, moon, and trident of Siva were 
found over the entrances of temples, the same as in Hin- 
dostan. Hieroglyphics were cut on the monuments, and 
the sculptures were painted blue, red, and yellow, the 
brightness of which faded when exposed to the air, after 
their long interment. The triangular harp of Egypt is 
represented, and so is the Tree of Life, which both in 
Egypt and Hindostan was believed to confer immortality 
on those who ate of its fruit. The attitude of adoration, 
standing with uplifted hands, is the same as in Egypt. 
Deities are represented with the heads of birds, and carry 
lotus-blossoms in their hands, or rings to represent com- 
pleted cycles. The bull, the ram, the lion, the goat, the 
seven planets, and other astronomical emblems, occur ev- 
erywhere. One of their deities is represented with four 
wings, each terminating in a star. An orb with wings is 
conspicuous among their sacred emblems, and strongly re- 
sembles the winged globe of the Egyptians, the symbol 
of Osiris. Diodorus, the historian, says Chaldeans called 
the planets by the very same names which Greeks used to 
designate them, and Greeks borrowed their names from the 
Egyptians. The sexual emblem, so common in Egypt and 
Hindostan, has not been found on the ruins of Nineveh. ' 
Chaldeans believed in One Supreme Being, and a mul- 
titude of subordinate deities emanating from him, in suc- 
cessive gradations. Spirits that were nearer the Divine 
Source were clothed with more ethereal forms than those 
more remote. The human, soul was a portion of God, 
and originally had wings, which having perished, must 
Vol. I.— 22 


be reproduced before it could return to its source. The 
stars were Spirits, and had an influence, beneficent or 
malignant, on the affairs of the world ; and wise men, by 
observing certain rules, could discover the secrets they re- 
vealed. They believed the world was created in six suc- 
cessive periods, and was alternately destroyed and renewed 
in the course of revolving ages. Whenever all the planets 
met in the sign of Capricorn the whole earth was over- 
whelmed with a deluge of water, and whenever they all 
met in Cancer it was consumed by fire. 

There was a powerful order of priests, who conducted the 
ceremonies of religion, explained the laws, practised medi- 
cine, interpreted dreams, and averted evils by magical 
rites. A class of them were set apart on purpose to ob- 
serve the heavenly bodies and keep record of their changes. 
The chief use made of this knowledge was to foretell 
weather and predict future events. These prophets became 
so celebrated that for many centuries all astrologers were 
known by the general name of Chaldeans. They were 
believed to be acquainted with spells that could command 
Spirits, and induce them to reveal supernatural virtues ex- 
isting in herbs and stones. These laws of magic were 
deemed so important that the kings of Chaldea and Persia 
were instructed therein as a valuable instrument of govern- 
ment. It was supposed that the forces of an enemy might 
be routed, and a whole army struck with sudden panic, by 
the due performance of prescribed ceremonies and in- 
vocations. The priests had secret doctrines and religious 
mysteries, which they transmitted from father to son, and 
carefully veiled from the populace, who worshipped sun, 
moon, and stars, not as emblems, but as real deities. 

The idea that heavenly luminaries were inhabited by 
Spirits, of a nature intermediate between God and men, 
first led mortals to address prayers to the orbs over which 
they were supposed to preside. In order to supplicate 
these deities, when sun, moon, and stars were not visible, 
they made images of them, which the priests consecrated 
with many ceremonies. Then they pronounced solemn 


invocations to draw down the Spirits into the statues pro- 
vided for their reception. By this process it was supposed 
that a mysterious connection was established between the 
Spirit and the image, so that prayers addressed to one were 
thenceforth heard by the other. This was probably the 
origin of image worship everywhere. 

The highest deity among the Chaldeans was called Bel, 
or Baal, which signifies Lord, or Prince, of the Heavenly 
Luminaries. The symbol sacred to him was a circle with 
wings, probably to represent the disc of the Sun and the 
Spirit presiding over that resplendent orb. Some have 
supposed that Belus, a beneficent ruler, who improved 
agriculture, united rivers by canals, and fortified Babylon 
with walls, was believed to be an avatar, or incarnation of 
this deity, and therefore received his name. Animals were 
sacrificed to Bel, and probably human beings also. Queen 
Serniramis erected a temple for his worship at Babylon, 
which on account of its great height was used to observe 
the stars. Herodotus says it was ascended by steps on the 
outside, from the ground to the highest point of the tower. 
At the top was a chapel, containing a table of solid gold, 
and a couch magnificently adorned, where Bel was said to 
sleep. A priestess resided there, whom the priests affirmed 
to have been selected by the god himself to attend upon 
him, because she was more beautiful than any other woman 
in the nation. This famous temple is reported to have 
contained three golden statues. One of Bel, forty feet 
high; another of a goddess supposed to have been a 
symbol of Nature, recipient and preserver of the life- 
giving principle of the world. She sat in a golden chair, 
with two lions by her side, and two huge silver serpents 
at her feet. Another goddess represented the planet which 
we call Venus, and was supposed to preside over genera- 
tion. Her forehead was surmounted by a star, she held in 
her right hand a serpent, in her left, a sceptre adorned with 
gems. Syrians worshipped her under the name of Astarte, 
and it is supposed she is alluded to in Hebrew Scriptures 
as " The Queen of Heaven." It is said every woman in 


Babylon was obliged to offer her person for sale one day 
in the year, at the temple of this goddess, and give the 
money thus obtained to defray the expenses of her worship. 
In Syria, every woman was required to conform to the 
same custom, or in lien thereof cut off all her hair as an 
offering to Astarte. We have no description of the re- 
ligious festivals of the Chaldeans, but from the great wealth 
of Babylon, and the expense so lavishly bestowed on sacred 
edifices, we may reasonably infer that their religious anni- 
versaries were observed with pompous processions and 
splendid pageantry. In autumn they had a harvest fes- 
tival of five days, during which time masters everywhere 
exchanged places with their servants, one of whom pre- 
sided over the household in royal robes. When Babylon 
was conquered by the Persians, under Cyrus the Great, the 
magnificent temple of Bel was robbed of its treasures in 
gold, silver and gems. 

Peesia, though ancient to us, was a modern nation com- 
pared with Hindostan, Egypt, or Chaldea. When Baby- 
lon was in its glory, Persia was inhabited by rude tribes, 
who had no place in history till the time of Cyrus the Great. 
It was originally called Iran, which means the Land of 
Light. Herodotus informs us that their religious cere- 
monies were conducted with great simplicity. They had 
neither temples nor altars, and considered it impious to 
make images of Divine Beings. They ascended moun- 
tains, and offered sacrifices, hymns, and prayers to the 
whole expanse of the Firmament ; or rather to the Deity, 
the Centre and Source of Universal Light, whom they 
supposed to reside there. They likewise worshipped sun, 
moon, fire, air, earth, and water. 

Concerning their great religious teacher Zerdusht, or 
Zoroaster, the most confused and contradictory accounts 
are given. Aristotle, Pliny, and others, fix his date five 
thousand years before the Trojan war, which would be 
more than six thousand years before the Christian era; 
and Plato mentions this as the most common opinion. 


Plutarch and others saj he flourished only five hundred 
years before the Trojan war. The Persians themselves 
had a tradition that he came from some country to the 
east of them, and they believed him to have been more 
ancient than the date we assign to Moses. That he was a 
foreigner is indicated by a passage in the Zendavesta, which 
represents Ormuzd as saying to him, "Up! and go into 
the Land of Iran." The confusion in chronology has led 
some scholars to suggest that there might have been two 
celebrated sages, who bore the same name ; one very an- 
cient, and the other, who was the great reformer of the old 
religion of Persia, not dating much farther back than the 
time of Cyrus the Great, who lived five hundred and fifty- 
nine years before Christ. The learned Heeren thinks it is 
satisfactorily proved by internal evidence from Zoroaster's 
own writings, that he lived at "a period anterior to the 
very commencement of the Median empire, ascending 
beyond the eighth century before the Christian era." He 
adds : " Whether we must refer him to a still more ancient 
epoch, must remain a question." One thing is certain; 
there was a man called Zoroaster, whom all Asiatic writers 
agree in representing as eminent for wisdom, particularly 
for knowledge of astronomy. The religion which bore his 
name is well known to have prevailed throughout Persia 
in the time of Socrates ; and of the Sacred Books ascribed 
to him mutilated copies still remain. 

Tradition reports that his mother had alarming dreams 
of Evil Spirits seeking to destroy the child to whom she 
was about to give birth. But a good Spirit came to rescue 
him, and said to her : " Fear nothing! Ormuzd will pro- 
tect this infant. He has sent him as a prophet to the peo- 
ple. The world is waiting for him." When he was born, 
wicked Spirits threw him into a flaming fire ; but his 
mother found him sleeping sweetly there, as if it were a 
pleasant bath. It is said that he lived twenty years in the 
wilderness, on cheese that never grew stale. Then he re- 
tired to a solitary mountain, and devoted himself to silent 
contemplation, in order to attain perfect holiness. One 
Vol I.— 22* 


day, fire from heaven descended visibly upon this moun- 
tain, and the king of Persia, attended by his court, ap- 
proached to worship the sacred flame. Zoroaster came 
down through the fire unharmed, bringing with him a 
Book of Laws, which he said had been revealed to him on 
the mountain, by Ormuzd himself. They called this the 
Zend-Avesta, which signifies the Living Word. They be- 
lieved it to be a portion of the Primeval "Word, by which 
creation was produced, and that every syllable it contained 
possessed an inherent virtue. When sacrifices were offered, 
it was not allowable to omit or transpose a single word. If 
priests should fail to perform the ritual, or to recite the 
prayers therein prescribed, they supposed the order of the 
universe would be disturbed, and all things fall into con- 
fusion. It was written in the Zend language, a dialect of 
the Sanscrit, the knowledge of which is supposed to have 
been confined to priests. After the promulgation of these 
holy laws, it is related that Zoroaster did not converse in- 
discriminately with all men, but only with those capable 
of understanding divine things. He held fire in his hand, 
and allowed melted lead to be poured into his bosom ; but 
nothing could do him any harm. Concerning his death, 
they affirm that he invoked the Spirit of the constellation 
of Orion, praying to be consumed by celestial fire; and 
that he ascended to heaven on a thunderbolt. The tradi- 
tion obviously implies that he died by lightning. The 
Persians considered him a divine messenger sent to redeem 
men from their evil ways, and they always worshipped his 
memory. To this day, his followers mention him with the 
greatest reverence ; calling him " The Immortal Zoroaster," 
" The Blessed Zoroaster," " The Living Star." Priests often 
precede their ceremonies with these words : " Just Judge, 
there is but one Zoroaster ; that is certain ; that is beyond 
doubt. The law, excellent, right, and just, which Ormuzd 
has given to his people, is certainly, and without doubt, 
that which Zoroaster has brought." 

He taught the existence of One Supreme Essence, invisi- 
ble and incomprehensible, named Zeruane Akerene, which 


signifies Unlimited Time, or The Eternal. From him em- 
anated Primeval Light ; from which sprung Ormuzd, the 
Kino; of Lisjht. He was God of the Firmament, and the 
Principle of Goodness and of Truth. He was called " The 
Eternal Source of Sunshine and Light," " The Centre of all 
that exists," " The First Born of the Eternal One," "The 
Creator," "The Sovereign Intelligence," "The All-See- 
ing," "The Just Judge." He was described as "sitting 
on the throne of the good and the perfect, in regions of 
pure light," crowned with rays, and with a ring on his 
finger ; a circle being the emblem of infinity ; sometimes 
as a venerable, majestic man, seated on a Bull, their em- 
blem of creation. He pronounced the Primeval Word, 
JEnohe verihe ! Be it ! and his own abode of celestial light 
sprang into existence, as far removed from the sun, as the 
sun is from the earth. He then created six resplendent 
Spirits, masculine and feminine, called Amshaspands, The 
Immortal Holy Ones, of whom himself was the seventh 
and highest. These deities of benevolence and wisdom 
surround the throne of Ormuzd, and convey to him the 
prayers of inferior spirits, and of men, for whom they are 
models of purity and perfection. The next series of crea- 
tion were twenty-eight gentle and kindly Spirits, mascu- 
line and feminine, called Izeds, the chief of whom was the 
radiant Mithras. They presided over sun, moon, and stars, 
showered beneficent gifts upon the earth, endeavoured to 
protect it from evil influences, and served as messengers 
between men and the Superior Spirits. The third order of 
Spirits, called Fervers, were infinitely more numerous ; for 
they were the ideas, which Ormuzd conceived, before he 
proceeded to the creation of the world. Hence they were 
the archetypes of every thing that existed, the vivifying 
principles which animated all things in the universe, and 
the guardians of stars, men, animals, plants, and all other 
created things. Every mortal had one of these Spirits by 
his side through life, to protect him from evil. Even Or- 
muzd himself was supposed to have his attendant Ferver. 
Khor, the Sun, was called " The Eye of Ormuzd." He 


is described as riding in a chariot with four horses, and 
finishing his course round the earth in three hundred and 
sixty-five days. A trumpet always sounded from the royal 
pavilion at the moment the sun rose ; and over the en- 
trance was a brilliant image of the sun, enclosed in crys- 
tal. Mithras, described as "the Spirit, or Ferver, who at- 
tends the Sun in his course," was an object of almost uni- 
versal worship throughout Persia. He was at first always 
invoked with the Sun, and in later times they were con- 
founded together. He was called, " The most exalted of 
the Izeds, the never-sleeping, the protector of the land." 
He is described as having a thousand ears, and ten thou- 
sand eyes. He was not merely the Spirit of Light, but 
also of Intelligence. Prayers were often addressed to him 
as " The Mediator," because he was supposed to mediate 
between the conflicting powers of good and evil. Like 
Osiris of Egypt, he was the god of fertility and beneficence ; 
like him, he was described with the orb of the sun on his 
head, and a circle with wings was his symbol. Mithra, a 
feminine Ized, was his companion. 

The universe was intrusted to a chain of spiritual agencies, 
ascending from the smallest terrestrial thing up to the throne 
of the Eternal One. Minerals, plants, insects, birds, quad- 
rupeds, fire, air, earth, and water, had each a presiding 
Spirit. Twelve genii of the zodiac ruled over the months, 
and thirty subordinate ones over each day of the month. 
All the heavenly luminaries were animated with Souls, of 
higher and higher intelligence, and more and more ethereal 
forms. Everything in the orbs over which they presided 
partook of their character and state, whether more or less 
excellent. " Stars with tails" (comets) were under the care 
of sun, moon, and fixed stars, who kept them within pre- 
scribed limits. Sirius, or the Dog Star, so sacred in Egypt 
as the Star of Isis, was appointed to guide all the others. 
A Persian poet says: "God conferred sovereignty on the 
Sun, and squadrons of Stars were his army." 

The Spirits of the Stars were benevolent guardians of 
men, and of all inferior creatures. They were endowed 


with intelligence superior to the Spirit of our Earth. 
Their vision extended through the universe. They knew 
what would happen in the future, and could reveal it to 
those who understood their signs. The destinies of men 
were intimately connected with their motions, and there- 
fore it was important to know under the influence of what 
star a human soul made its advent into this world. As- 
trologers swarmed in the palace of the king, and were con- 
sulted on all important occasions. Persians held the stars 
in such affectionate reverence that whenever they looked at 
one they kissed their hand to it. 

In Hindostan the destroying principle and the repro- 
ducing were united in the same deity. In Egypt the de- 
structive and beneficent god were twin brothers. In Persia, 
Ormuzd, the King of Light, and Arimanes, the Prince of 
Darkness, both emanated from The Eternal One. Ar- 
imanes, the second emanation, became jealous of the First 
Born. In consequence of his manifestations of pride and 
envy, the Eternal One condemned him to remain three 
thousand years in the dark realm of shadows, where no 
ray of light could penetrate. During this time, Ormuzd 
made the firmament, the heavenly orbs, and Celestial 
Spirits, without his being aware of it. But when the period 
of his banishment had expired, he approached the light, 
and its dazzling beauty renewed his old feelings of envy. 
He resolved to compete with Ormuzd in everything. He 
created seven Spirits called Archdevs, in opposition to the 
Amshaspands, and attached them to the seven planets, to 
paralyze their efforts for good, and substitute evil. Then 
he made twenty-eight Spirits called Devs, to counteract the 
Izeds, by spreading all manner of disorder and distress. 
The most powerful and pernicious of these was an impure 
Serpent with two feet, named Aschmogh. Then he pro- 
duced a crowd of genii to oppose the beneficent operations 
of the Fervers, so that everything had an attendant bad 
Spirit, as well as a good one. 

Ormuzd, to arrest the increase of evil, made an egg con- 
taining kindly Spirits ; but Arimanes made one containing 


an equal number of Spirits of hatred ; then he broke the 
eggs together, and good and evil became mixed in the new 

Ormuzd created the material world in six successive 
periods. He first spread out the firmament, with its orbs 
of light ; second, he created water ; third, earth ; fourth, 
trees ; fifth, animals ; sixth, man. When all was finished 
he devoted a seventh period to a festival with the good 
Spirits. Arimanes assisted in the creation of the earth and 
the water, because the King of Shadows could not be ex- 
cluded from those deep opaque elements. Ormuzd, by his 
will and his word, created a Bull, the symbol of all Life 
upon the earth. Arimanes slew him, but drops from his 
body falling into the ground afterward produced various 
animals and plants. When the elementary particles of his 
body had been purified in the light of the sun forty years, 
they became the germ of the Eibas tree, consisting of two 
closely intertwined stems. Into these Ormuzd infused the 
breath of life, and they became the first man and the first 
woman, named Meshia and Meshiane. Celestial happiness 
was intended for them, if they obeyed the laws of Ormuzd 
with humility, did not invoke Evil Spirits, and kept them- 
selves pure in thought, word, and action. They did so in 
the beginning. They said to each other : " It is Ormuzd 
who has given us the sun, moon, stars, water, earth, trees, 
and animals. All cometh from a pure root, and beareth 
pure fruit." But because Ormuzd had made a Guardian 
Spirit to watch over every human being, Arimanes made 
an Evil Genius to attend upon and tempt each one through 
his whole life. These wicked ones slipped into their 
thoughts, and said: "It is Arimanes who has given the 
sun, and moon, and all good things." And when they 
listened to this suggestion, Arimanes cried aloud from his 
realm of shadows : " men, worship us !" Then Meshia 
poured milk toward the North, as a libation to the Spirits 
of Darkness, and their power was greatly increased 
thereby. To harass and destroy the good animals, Ari- 
manes made wolves, and tigers, and serpents, and venomous 


insects. By eating a certain kind of fruit, lie transformed 
himself into a serpent, and went gliding'about on the earth 
to tempt human beings. His Devs entered the bodies of 
men and produced all manner of diseases. They entered 
into their minds, and incited them to sensuality, falsehood, 
slander and revenge. Into every department of the world 
they introduced discord and death. When Ormuzd tried 
to lead men against Arimanes, they deserted him and 
joined the enemy, thus enabling him to gain the as- 
cendancy on earth and keep it for three thousand years. 

The laws of Zoroaster were given to guide men back to 
true worship. The Zend-Avesta tells us that in view of the 
accumulation of evil, he cried out in prayer : "0 Ormuzd, 
steeped in brightness, what shall I do, in order to battle 
successfully with Arimanes, the father of evil? How 
shall I make men pure and holy ?" 

Ormuzd answered : " O Zoroaster, invoke Zeruane Ake- 
rene. Invoke the Amshaspands, who shed . abundance 
throughout the seven planets. Invoke the birds, travelling 
on high. Invoke the swift wind, the earth, and the heaven. 
Invoke my Spirit, who am the strongest, wisest, best of 
beings; who have the most majestic body, who am su- 
preme in purity, whose soul is the excellent Word. All 
ye people, invoke me, as I have commanded Zoroaster." 

" Thou, Zoroaster, by the promulgation of my Law, 
shalt restore to me my former glory, which was pure light. 
Up ! haste thee to the Land of Iran, which thirsteth after 
the Law, and say, thus sayeth Ormuzd : ' Thou, Iran, 
which I created pure, and radiant in brightness, shalt re- 
store to me my ancient glory. Thou shalt utterly uproot 
all impure thoughts ; all kinds of death, all sorcery, all 
evil shalt thou destroy.' " 

The Eternal One had from the beginning limited the 
duration of time to twelve thousand years. Notwithstand- 
ing the activity and beneficence of the Spirits of Light, 
Arimanes would often have the mastery, especially in the 
latter time. But pure souls have nothing to fear. The 
Eternal has decreed the ultimate triumph of good. When 


the earth seems most afflicted with evil, he will send pro- 
phets to succour the distressed, and reveal to mortals the 
heavenly light. Finally, the whole world will become 
converted to the worship of Zoroaster. Men will cease to 
eat meat, and live on milk and fruit ; afterward, they will 
sustain themselves on water only ; at last, they will beco'ine 
so ethereal, that they will take no nourishment whatsoever, 
and yet not die. 

At the appointed time, the Ized Serosch will summon the 
Holy One to appear, whose mission it is to judge the 
wicked and the good, and restore the world to its primeval 
beauty. He will bring all the world to the worship of 
Zoroaster, and establish universal peace and happiness. 
At his command, bodies will rise from their graves. Souls 
will know them, and will say : " That is my father, or my 
brother, my wife, or my sister." The wicked will say to 
the good : " Wherefore, when I was in the world, did you 
not teach me to act righteously ? O, ye pure ones, it is 
because you have not instructed me, that I am excluded 
from the assembly of the blest." 

Each one will be judged according to his works. The 
good father may have a wicked daughter, and of two 
sisters, one may be pure and the other impure. The good 
will weep over the evil, and the evil will weep over them- 
selves. A star with a tail, in the course of its revolutions, 
will strike the earth, and set it on fire. The fierce heat 
will make metals run down from high mountains and flow 
over the earth like rivers. All men must pass through 
them. To the good they will be like baths of warm milk ; 
to the wicked they will be like torrents of lava. Bat they 
will be purified through fire, and come forth excellent and 
happy. Arimanes and his imps will be driven by Good 
Spirits through the burning torrents of melted metal, that 
they may become purified also. Even they will at last 
feel the overpowering influence of goodness, and will pros- 
trate themselves before Ormuzd, who will accept their re- 
pentance and forgive them freely. These redeemed Spirits 
will join mankind in a universal chorus of praise to the 


Eternal Source of light and blessing. Fathers and sons, 
sisters and friends, will unite to aid each other in good 
works. They will cast no shadows, all speak one language, 
and live together in one harmonious society. The level 
and fruitful earth will be clothed with renovated beauty, 
and innocence and joy will everywhere prevail. After 
that, Ormuzd will repose for a while. 

Such is the account given in the Sacred Scriptures of 
the ancient Persians, called the Zend-Avesta. The follow- 
ing is a concise statement of the moral teaching therein 
contained : M Worship, with humility and reverence, Or- 
muzd, the giver of blessings, and all the Spirits, to whose 
care he has intrusted the universe. Men ought reverently 
to salute the Sun, and praise him, but not pay him reli- 
gious worship." 

11 Obey strictly all the laws given to Zoroaster." 
" Kings are animated by a more ethereal fire than other 
mortals ; such fire as exists in the upper spheres. Ormuzd 
established the king to nourish and solace the poor. He is 
to his people what Ormuzd is to this earth. It is the duty 
of subjects to obey him implicitly." 

" It is the duty of children to obey their parents ; for 
wives to obey their husbands." 

" Treat old age with great reverence and tenderness." 
" Multiply the human species, and increase its happiness." 
u Cultivate the soil, drain marshes, and destroy danger- 
ous creature's. He who sows the ground with diligence 
acquires a greater stock of religious merit than he could 
gain by ten thousand prayers in idleness." 

" Multiply domestic animals, nourish them, and treat 
them gently." 

" Warriors, who defend the right, deserve praise." 
" Do not allow thyself to be carried away by anger. 
Angry words, and scornful looks, are sins. To strike a 
man, or vex him with words, is a sin. Even the intention 
to strike another, merits punishment. Opposition to peace 
is a sin. Eeply to thine enemy with gentleness." 

"Avoid everything calculated to injure others. Have 
Vol. I.— 23 m 


no companionship with a man who injures his neighbour." 

" Take not that which belongs to another." 

" Be not envious, avaricious, proud, or vain. Envy and 
jealousy are the work of Evil Spirits. Haughty thoughts 
and thirst of gold are sins." 

" To refuse hospitality, and not to succour the poor, are 

" Obstinacy in maintaining a lie is a sin. Be very scru- 
pulous to observe the truth in all things." 

" Abstain from thy neighbour's wife. Fornication and 
immodest looks are sins. Avoid licentiousness, because it 
is one of the readiest means to give Evil Spirits power over 
body and soul. Strive, therefore, to keep pure iri body 
and mind, and thus prevent the entrance of Evil Spirits, 
who are always trying to gain possession of man. To 
think evil is a sin." 

" Contend constantly against evil, morally and physi- 
cally, internally and externally. Strive in every way to 
diminish the power of Arimanes and destroy his works. 
If a man has done this, he may fearlessly meet death ; well 
assured that radiant Izeds will lead him across the lumi- 
nous bridge, into a paradise of eternal happiness. But 
though he has been brave in battle, killed wild beasts, 
and fought with all manner of external evils, if he has 
neglected to combat evil within himself, he has reason to 
fear that Arimanes and his Devs will seize him, and carry 
him to Duzakh, (hell,) where he will be punished according 
to his sins ; not to satisfy the vengeance of Ormuzd, but 
because having connected himself with evil, this is the only 
means of becoming purified therefrom, so as to be capable 
of enjoying happiness at a future period." 

11 Every man who is pure in thoughts, words, and actions, 
will go to the celestial regions. Every man who is evil in 
thoughts, words, or actions, will go to the place of the 

- " All good thoughts, words, or actions, are the produc- 
tions of the celestial world." 

There is a work called The Sadder, written for popular 


use, by a Magus, much later than Zoroaster. As usual 
with all religions as they grow older, there is a departure 
from primitive simplicity. This book contains few moral 
precepts, and directions for innumerable ceremonies, ac- 
companied with unconditional obedience to priests. It 
declares : " Though your good works exceed in number 
the leaves, the drops of rain, the stars in the sky, or the 
sands on the sea-shore, they will be unprofitable to you, 
unless they are accepted by the priests. To obtain the 
acceptation of these guides to salvation, you must faithfully 
pay them tithes of all you possess ; of your goods, of your 
lands, and of your money. If the priests be satisfied, your 
soul will escape hell-tortures ; you will secure praise in 
this world, and happiness in the next. For the teachers of 
religion know all things, and can deliver all men." This 
book represents Arimanes as being annihilated, instead of 

A large portion of the Zend-Avesta is filled with pray- 
ers, of which the following are samples : "T address my 
prayer to Ormuzd, Creator of all things ; who always has 
been, who is, and who will be forever ; who is wise and 
powerful ; who made the great arch of heaven, the sun, 
moon, stars, winds, clouds, water, earth, fire, trees, animals, 
metals, and men ; whom Zoroaster adored. Zoroaster, who 
brought to the world knowledge of the law ; who knew by 
natural intelligence, and by the ear, what ought to be done, 
all that has been, all that is, and all that will be ; the sci- 
ence of sciences, the excellent Word, by which souls pass 
the luminous and radiant bridge, separate themselves from 
the evil regions, and go to light and holy dwellings, full 
of fragrance. Creator, I obey thy laws. I think, act, 
speak, according to thy orders. I separate myself from all 
sin. I do good works according to my power. I adore 
thee with purity of thought, word, and action. I pray to 
Ormuzd, who recompenses good works, who delivers unto 
the end all those who obey his laws. Grant that I may 
arrive at Paradise, where all is fragrance, light, and happi- 


" Ormuzd, pardon the repentant sinner. As I, when 
a man irritates me by his thoughts, words, or actions, car- 
ried away, or not carried away, by his passions, if he hum- 
bles himself before me, and addresses to me his prayer, I 
become his friend." 

" Grant, Ormuzd, that my good works may exceed 
my sins. Give me a part in all good actions and all holy 

" I pray to Mithras, who has a thousand ears and ten 
thousand eyes ; who never sleeps, who is always watchful 
and attentive, who renders barren lands fertile." 

" Thou Fire, son of Ormuzd, brilliant and beneficent, 
given by Ormuzd, be favourable to me." 

"I pray to the New Moon, holy, pure, and great. I 
pray to the Full Moon, holy, pure, and great. I gaze at 
the Moon which is on high, I honour the light of the 
Moon. The Moon is a blessed Spirit created by Ormuzd, 
to bestow light and glory on the earth." 

" I invoke the Source of Waters, holy, pure, and great, 
coming from the throne of Ormuzd, from the high moun- 
tain, holy, pure, and great." 

" I invoke the sweet Earth. I invoke the Mountains, 
abode of happiness, given by Ormuzd, holy, pure, and 

The Word spoken by Ormuzd, through whose agency 
creation was produced, was called Honover, and invoked 
as the Great Primal Spirit. 

In all their prayers and religious ceremonies, it was cus- 
tomary to turn towards the sun. When they invoked the 
stars, the elements, or any visible objects, they affirmed 
that their worship was not directed to them, but to the 
Spirits residing in them, whom they were bound to revere 
as the benevolent creations of Ormuzd. In his name all 
their prayers and ceremonies began and ended. Of all 
places on earth, mountains were considered most holy. 
Kivers were sacred, and they never allowed them to be 
polluted by blood, or anything unclean. The Euphrates, 
which annually overflows and fertilizes the country, they 


regarded with especial reverence, and paid homage to it, 
as Egyptians did to the Nile. All good men, useful ani- 
mals, salutary plants, and luminous objects, belonged to 
Ormuzd. All wicked, ferocious, poisonous things, and all 
dark places, belonged to Arimanes. They expressed their 
detestation of this Evil One in all manner of ways. When 
they had occasion to Write his name, they always wrote it 
backward, and turned the letters upside down. They con- 
sidered a dragon the representative of him. They some- 
times sacrificed to him and his Spirits, in order to pacify 
their rage, avert dangers, or procure injury to enemies ; 
but it was not lawful to eat the meat of animals thus sacri- 
ficed. When Xerxes prayed that it might be put into the 
minds of nations at enmity with Persia to drive away their 
best and bravest men, as the Athenians had exiled Themis- 
tocles, he addressed the prayer to Arimanes, not to Ormuzd. 
For oblations to Evil Spirits, they pounded plants that 
grew in deeply-shaded places, mixed them with the blood 
of a wolf, and threw it into some dark hole where the 
sun never shone. 

Persian priests were called Magi. At first they were 
few in number, but afterward became numerous and 
powerful. The Archimagus, or High Priest, was revered 
as the visible head of the church, and the lawful successor 
of Zoroaster. He resided at Balch, which was regarded 
as a holy city. They said the identical fire from heaven, 
brought by Zoroaster himself from the flaming moun- 
tain, where he received the sacred Book of Laws, was there 
preserved in the temple. Grand solemnities and religious 
festivals were celebrated there, and it was deemed an in- 
dispensable duty for every man to make a pilgrimage 
thither at least once in his life. Each district had a super- 
intending priest, who ranked next to the High Priest. A 
third class performed the common offices of worship in 
towns and villages. A large tract of the most fertile land 
was appropriated to the Magi ; and citizens were required 
to give a tenth of their income for their support, and the 
expenses attending religious ceremonies. Kings could not 
Vol. I.— 28* 


enter upon the duties of their royal office till they had 
been enrolled among the Magi, and instructed in their mys- 
teries. They had sole charge of the public records, and 
the education of youth. ISTo other persons were allowed 
to explain the Sacred Books, or perform religious ceremo- 
nies. A class of them were Prophets. When they pro- 
phesied, they said the air was full of visions, which infused 
themselves subtly into their eyes. It was believed they 
could predict weather, and foretell future events from the 
aspect of the stars ; that, by certain ceremonies and holy 
words, they could cast Evil Spirits out of the diseased ; and 
recite spells that would impart supernatural virtue to stones, 
plants, and scraps of writing. In the later times, kings 
sometimes caused them to be put to death for misinterpret- 
ing dreams and uttering false prophecies. 

The Magi were required to be of good moral character, 
in sound health, and free from any personal deformity. 
Hindoo and Egyptian priests considered it necessary, in 
order to preserve their sanctity, never to come in contact 
with blood, except that of animals slain for sacrifice ; but 
Persian priests were not considered polluted by killing 
anything, except a human being, or a dog. In primitive 
times they were very simple in their habits. They dressed 
in plain white robes, and wore no ornaments. They slept 
on the ground, and lived on bread, cheese, fruit, and vege- 
tables. Afterward, when people brought animals to be 
sacrificed to the gods, the priests were accustomed to feast 
upon the flesh ; it being their doctrine that the soul of the 
animal was the part most appropriate to deities. It was 
unlawful to touch the sacrifice, or approach the altar, till 
they had poured upon it consecrated liquors, and repeated 
prescribed words. 

They worshipped Fire with peculiar reverence, because 
they thought it represented, though imperfectly, the original 
fire from Ormuzd, the vital principle of life and motion ; 
also, because it was the most purifying of all things. They 
never allowed dead bodies to be burned ; that being con- 
sidered a pollution of the sacred element. A fire was kept 


continually burning on all their altars. It was originally 
kindled in the temple at Balch, at the sacred flame brought 
from the burning mountain by Zoroaster himself ; and it was 
never after allowed to go out. The Magi watched it alter- 
nately, night and day. They fed it with fragrant sandal-wood, 
first stripped of its bark, to ascertain that it was perfectly 
clean and free from insects. Sometimes they threw in gar- 
lands as an offering, and if the fire languished, they poured on 
consecrated aromatic oil, accompanying the ceremony with 
prayers and music of the double flute. When the king 
went forth to battle, the Magi carried a portion of the 
Sacred Fire, on silver censers, in front of the army. Who- 
ever cast any dirt into it, or blowed upon it with his 
breath, was put to death, because breath, coming from the 
interior of the body, was deemed impure. 

They consecrated vegetables, fruit and flowers, and of- 
fered them in very clean places, as oblations to the souls 
of departed ancestors. Animals for sacrifice were crowned 
with garlands. To Mithras they sacrificed beautiful white 
horses, richly caparisoned, because that free and vigorous 
animal was considered an appropriate emblem of the sun. 
They buried human beings alive, as an offering to a deity 
whom they supposed to exist under the earth. Herodotus 
speaks of nine youths and nine virgins thus sacrificed, and 
he says it was a common custom in Persia. 

They had religious festivals of gratitude for spring time 
and harvest. Every year, during one of these festivals, 
kings and princes set aside their pomp and mingled freely 
with the humblest of their subjects. They received all 
petitions, and inquired personally into the grievances of 
the poor. Before they sat down to feast, the monarch was 
accustomed to say : " From your labours we receive sub- 
sistence, and you are protected by our vigilance. Since, 
therefore, we are mutually necessary to each other, let us 
live together like brothers, in concord and love." Indivi- 
duals frequently employed the priests to offer sacrifices or 
oblations, on birth-days, or the anniversaries of deceased 
ancestors, or other occasions connected with their own in- 


terests or affections, but no man was allowed to sacrifice or 
pray for himself, or his own family alone ; he was required 
to include the whole nation in his supplications. One of 
their festivals was called The Destruction of Evils, because 
during its observance the Magi destroyed ferocious beasts, 
venomous reptiles, and poisonous plants; reciting, mean- 
while, many formulas to expel Evil Spirits. 

Their most splendid ceremonials were in honor of 
Mithras, called the Mediator. They kept his birth -day, 
with many rejoicings, on the twenty-fifth of December, 
when the sun perceptibly begins to return northward, 
after his long winter journey ; and they had another festival 
at the vernal equinox. Perhaps no religious festival was 
ever more splendid than the annual Salutation of Mithras, 
during which forty days were set apart for thanksgiving 
and sacrifice. The procession to salute the god formed 
long before the rising of the sun. The High Priest was 
followed by a long train of the Magi, in spotless white 
robes, chanting hymns, and carrying the Sacred Fire on 
silver censers. Then came three hundred and sixty-five 
youths in scarlet, to represent the days of the year, and the 
colour of fire. These were followed by the Chariot of the 
Sun, empty, decorated with garlands, and drawn by superb 
white horses harnessed with pure gold. Then came a 
white horse of magnificent size, his forehead blazing with 
srems, in honour of Mithras. Close behind him rode the 
king, in a chariot of ivory inlaid with gold, followed by 
his royal kindred in embroidered garments, and a long 
train of nobles riding on camels richly caparisoned. This 
gorgeous retinue, facing the east, slowly ascended Mount 
Orontes. Arrived at the summit, the High Priest assumed 
his tiara wreathed with myrtle, and hailed the first rays 
of the rising sun with incense and prayer. The other 
Magi gradually joined him in singing hymns to Ormuzd, 
the source of all blessing, by whom the radiant Mithras 
had been sent to gladden the earth and preserve the prin- 
ciple of life. Finally, they all joined in one universal 


chorus of praise, while king, princes and nobles prostrated 
themselves before the orb of day. 

Persians did not represent Ormuzd as assisted in the 
work of creation by a feminine companion, and they dis- 
liked descriptions of that kind in other religions. They 
had likewise great abhorrence of images, and lest they 
should be introduced from foreign nations, they forbade the 
exercise of any other worship than that of Zoroaster, under 
the severest penalties. In the beginning they always 
worshipped in the open air, from an idea that it was im- 
pious to enclose the deity within walls; but, in after times, 
they erected several temples, and had numerous small 
oratories for the people to go in and pray, where the Sacred 
Fire was kept burning only in lamps. Sects sprung up 
and disputed about the origin of evil, and various other 
questions, each striving to sustain its creed by texts from 
the Zend-Avesta. Some maintained that Arimanes was 
co-eternal with Ormuzd ; others affirmed that only light 
and goodness flowed from the Source of Being, that dark- 
ness and evil merely followed them as a shadow does the 
substance. In the reign of Artaxerxes, divisions of opinion 
had multiplied into seventy-two sects, beside a class of un- 
believers, who ridiculed them all. The king summoned 
the Magi from all parts of his dominions, to the number 
of forty thousand. From these four thousand of the 
worthiest were selected ; these were again sifted down to 
four hundred, to forty, and finally to seven. Among 
these the pre-eminent for holiness was Erdiviraph. Having 
performed ablutions and other religious ceremonies, he 
drank a powerful opiate, was covered with white linen, 
and laid down to sleep, that he might receive divine rev- 
elations in dreams. The king and six nobles watched by 
him while he slept seven days and nights. When he 
awoke, he declared what was truly the religion taught by 
the Zend-Avesta. This was carefully written down by an 
attendant scribe. The people received it as a divine rev- 
elation, believing that his soul had been in heaven and 
received direct instruction from Ormuzd. 



The religion of Persia had always been very uncompro- 
mising, and intolerant toward other nations ; principally 
owing to their abhorrence of image-worship. When Cam- 
byses invaded Egypt, he mutilated the statues of the gods, 
and insulted the sacred symbols. Babylon having become 
a province of the Persian empire, by conquest, Xerxes de- 
stroyed the images of the gods, and put their priesthood to 
death. After Artaxerxes restored the national religion, by 
an express revelation from Ormuzd to the holiest of the 
Magi, his desire to preserve the national unity led to a 
very strict exclusion of all other forms of faith. The 
adoption of foreign gods, so very common among the na- 
tions, was strenuously resisted by the Persians. But never- 
theless causes were at work to produce gradual changes. 
The union of the Babylonian empire with the Persian 
brought in many Chaldean customs and ideas. Mixture 
with the Greeks, by war and commerce, and the final re- 
duction of Persia to a Roman province, introduced a flood 
of foreign innovations. Temples were erected, and, not- 
withstanding their abhorrence of images, the statue of the 
goddess Astarte was set up and worshipped in many 
places, under the name of Mithra. In the latter times, an 
order of priestesses was likewise instituted, vowed to celi- 
bacy, and dedicated to the service of Mithras. But not- 
withstanding these unsettling influences, the greater part 
of the Persians clung with tenacious affection to the faith 
of Zoroaster. 

When Mahometans conquered Persia, in the seventh 
century of our era, followers of the old faith passed through 
very severe sufferings. But at last, when the new power 
became firmly established, a fragment of them, consisting 
of about eighty thousand families, were allowed to settle in 
one of the most barren provinces of Persia, to build a new 
temple, and worship in their own way. A few are scat- 
tered about elsewhere, but they are always obliged to live 
in suburbs by themselves, and are employed only in the 
meanest offices. They make many pilgrimages to Mount 
Elbourz, the residence of their High Priest, whom they 


regard as an oracle. Their conquerors contemptuously 
name them Grhebers, or Giaours, which means infidels , 
but they call themselves Behendie, signifying followers of 
the true faith. Europeans generally style them Fire Wor- 
shippers ; but they say they merely adore fire as the repre- 
sentative of an invisible Spirit, whom they call Yerd. 
They keep a fire burning in their consecrated places, which 
they believe was kindled by Zoroaster four thousand years 
ago. They often build their temples over subterranean 
fires. Upon their altars, they have spheres to represent 
the sun. When the sun rises, these orbs light up, and 
turn round with great noise. The ignorant attribute this 
to magic. Some of them reside on the shores of the Cas- 
pian Sea, about ten miles from a source of perpetual fire, 
which they hold in great veneration. It issues from the 
cleft of a rock, and appears like the clear blue flame of 
burning alcohol. Sometimes it rises several yards ; at 
others, only a few inches above the aperture. It has been 
burning thus for ages, without intermission, and the rock 
is neither consumed nor changed in colour. When trav- 
ellers insert a hollow tube in the ground, for several hun- 
dred yards round this rock, a similar fire issues through 
the tube. Some suppose the story of Zoroaster's burning 
mountain originated in this, or a similar phenomenon. 

Some of his followers, in time of Mahometan persecution, 
fled eastward to India, told their story, and humbly begged 
permission to stay. A Hindoo rajah took compassion on 
them, and allowed them to build a temple for the Sacred 
Fire, which they had carefully brought with them. They 
remain there in considerable numbers to this day, under 
the name of Parsees. They are a poor, harmless people, 
industrious in their habits, rigorous in morals, and honest 
in their dealings. They worship but one Grod, and detest 
idols. They consider Zoroaster the highest of prophets, 
but have also great reverence for Abraham, and often call 
their own faith the religion of Abraham. The Sacred Fire 
they carried from Persia, more than a thousand years ago, 
has never been extinguished. They preserve it with the 


utmost veneration in their temple at Oodwara. In all 
their other temples is a sacred flame, lighted from this, and 
carefully watched by priests, who pray with mouths cov- 
ered, lest their breath should pollute the holy element. 
The Parsees never blow out a light, but always extinguish 
it by a fan, or motions of the hand. Priests spend their 
whole time reading prayers, chanting hymns, burning in- 
cense, and performing prescribed ceremonies. Devotional 
exercises mingle more or less with almost every action of 
life, among this simple people. " May my prayer be pleas- 
ing to Ormuzd," is the preface to every petition. They 
have prayers for the new moon, for the fifteenth day of 
the moon, and for the decline of the moon ; but they are 
especially enjoined to pray often during the growth of the 
moon. They employ priests to recite many formulas to 
guard their crops from malign influences ; and they them- 
selves utter continual invocations to Spirits of the sun, 
moon, earth, and waters, to render their harvests abundant. 
Every day, they pray to the particular Spirit supposed to 
preside over that day. They wash and recite a prayer be- 
fore and after eating. They pray when they retire to rest ; 
when they rise in the morning ; when they turn in bed, 
toward a fire, or burning lamp, or moon, or star ; when 
they light a lamp, or see one lighted ; when they cut their 
nails, or their hair ; and on many other occasions, which 
it would hardly be consistent with decorum to mention. 
They are forbidden to speak while they eat, or while they 
perform any of the natural functions ; because Evil Spirits 
seek to distract mortals, and insinuate themselves into the 
body while the senses are busily occupied. "When a person 
sneezes, they consider it a sign that the Evil Spirits, always 
striving to gain possession of man, are driven out by the 
interior fire that animates him. Therefore, whenever they 
hear a sneeze, they say : " Blessed be Ormuzd !" In the 
chamber where a babe is born, they keep a fire burning 
continually, because Evil Spirits are afraid to approach 
that sacred element. Those, who can afford it, keep four 
priests employed three days and three nights, praying and 


performing ceremonies for the temporal and eternal welfare 
of the child. It is washed three times, with water pre- 
viously consecrated by various forms of blessing and prayer. 
Whoever touches the new-born before this ablution, must 
go through a process of purification. Some parents still 
consult the priests concerning the aspect of the stars at the 
birth of their offspring. When a child is frightened, or 
has a fit, or is troubled with any disease, they obtain from 
the priests, a spell thus worded, and tie it on his left arm : 
" In the name of Ormuzd, I bind this fever, and all other 
evils produced by Arimanes and his wicked Spirits, by 
magicians, or by Peris. I bind these evils by the power 
and beauty of fire ; by the power and beauty of the planets 
and fixed stars." Peris are supposed to be descendants of 
fallen Spirits, doomed to wander about the earth, and ex- 
cluded from Paradise, till their penance is accomplished. 
When a man has a fever, or any other malady, they recite 
prayers similar to the above, clapping the hands seven 
times. It is supposed that Evil Spirits enter a lifeless body 
as soon as the animating fire from Ormuzd has gone out of 
it. Therefore, whoever touches a corpse, even accidentally, 
must purify himself by ablutions, prayers, and ceremonies. 
On stated occasions, they offer oblations of flowers, fruit, 
rice, wine, and sometimes meat, to the souls of departed 
ancestors, and employ priests to accompany them with 
prayers. During the last ten days of the year, they believe 
the spirits of the dead come to earth and visit their rela- 
tives ; therefore they never leave their homes at that 
season. They have their houses purified by religious cere- 
monies, and ornamented with garlands for their reception. 
Intelligent Ghebers and Parsees acknowledge that the 
original Zend-Avesta was lost in the course of their various 
wars and migrations. Scattered fragments were collected 
and published, and to this day it is regarded with great 
veneration, as a book from heaven. A copy is kept in 
every temple, and portions of it are read to the people at 
stated times. Anquetil du Perron, a zealous Oriental 
scholar, spent several years among the Parsees, and trans- 
Vol. I.— 24 


lated into French a part of the Zend-Avesta, which was 
published in 1771. The learned men of Europe generally 
acknowledge it as the ancient Zend-Avesta and an au- 
thentic record of the doctrines of Zoroaster. 

The priesthood is not hereditary among the Parsees. 
The son of the poorest labourer may be educated for the 
sacred office. But these simple devotional people regard 
their religious teachers with the utmost veneration. They 
are considered polluted by the touch of foreigners^ or even 
by men of their own faith. If a physician cures a priest 
of any dangerous illness, he is considered amply repaid by 
his prayers, so very efficacious are they deemed. Before 
reciting a prayer, the priests always wash their hands, 
saying: "I repent of all my sins. I renounce them." 
To render their supplications more powerful, they use a 
formula to unite them with all souls who have ever been 
pleasing to Ormuzd, or ever will be so, till the day of resur- 
rection. The priest also declares that he takes part in all 
the good actions of all the just, who have ever lived in the 
world, and that he joins his actions to theirs. This com- 
munion of prayers is everywhere conspicuous in all their 
ceremonies. The ancient doctrine concerning Arimanes 
has become modified. They now teach that he was an in- 
ferior Spirit, who rebelled against Ormuzd, his Creator. 
A spirit of benevolence pervades their maxims. Their 
writings declare "there is no greater crime than to buy 
grain and keep it till it becomes dear. He who pursues 
this course, renders himself responsible for all the famine 
and misery in the world." 

Of all known religions, that of the Parsees is the only 
one in which fasting and celibacy are never enjoined as 
meritorious, but are, on the contrary, expressly forbidden. 
They say the power of Arimanes is increased by punishing 
the body and rendering it feeble and sluggish ; that Ormuzd 
is best pleased when the body is kept fresh and vigorous, 
as a means of rendering the soul more strong to resist the 
attacks of evil. They believe that a man in good health 
and spirits can listen more attentively to the Sacred Word, 


and has more courage of heart to perform good works. 
They consider large families a blessing, and keep all birth- 
days as holy festivals. They say beneficent genii gave 
fragrance to flowers, and flavour to fruit, on purpose that 
man might enjoy them. ■ They take cheerful and benevolent 
views of death. To the good it is only a passage into 
Paradise; to the wicked it is the beginning of penances 
that will finally atone for their sins, and from which the 
living can help to deliver them by their prayers. When a 
man commits crimes, it is ordained that relatives and friends 
should perform pious rites and make donations to the poor, 
in expiation of his faults, because they believe such obser- 
vances will diminish his period of punishment. 

They have a tradition that a holy personage, named 
Pashoutan, is waiting in a region called Kanguedez, for 
a summons from the Ized Serosch, who in the last days 
will bring him to Persia, to restore the ancient dominion 
of that country and spread the religion of Zoroaster over 
the whole earth. 

In the northern districts of Kurdistan there is, at this 
present time, a sect called Yezidis, or Devil-Worshippers, 
greatly despised by the Mahometans and Christians around 
them. They are kind and simple people, extremely devout, 
according to the faith which they believe was delivered to 
their saints. They have a tradition that they came from 
the banks of the Euphrates, and their worship indicates a 
Chaldean of Persian origin. They believe in One Supreme 
Being, but have a reverential awe of talking about his ex- 
istence or attributes. They believe Satan was once chief 
of the angelic host. He is now suffering punishment for 
his rebellion against the Supreme, but will eventually be 
restored to his high estate in the celestial hierarchy. He 
has under his control seven Spirits, who exercise great in- 
fluence over the affairs of this world. They say it is 
necessary to conciliate him, because he now has means of 
doing much evil to mankind, and he will hereafter have 
power to reward them. When they allude to him, they do 
it with great reverence ; calling him Melek el Kout, the 


Mighty Angel. They will not mention his name, or even 
utter any word which resembles it in sound. It irritates 
them to hear it spoken by others, and it is said they have 
put to death some who wantonly persisted in doing it to 
annoy them. The bronze image of a bird, consecrated to 
him, is treated with great veneration. The Sheik carries 
it in all his journeys, and his deputies have small copies 
of it made in wax. They practise circumcision, and baptize 
a child in water, if possible, seven days after birth. They 
consider Abraham and Mahomet great prophets, and be- 
lieve that Christ was a heavenly Spirit, who took on him- 
self the form of a man, for benevolent purposes. They 
say he did not die on the cross, but ascended living to 
heaven, whence he will come a second time on this earth. 
They have very great reverence for the Hebrew Scriptures, 
and a lesser degree for the New Testament and the Koran. 
They practise frequent ablutions, and have great abhor- 
rence of pork. They have a volume in Arabic, containing 
chants, prayers, and directions for the performance of re- 
ligious ceremonies. They consider this very sacred, and 
will not show it to strangers. Their holy day is Wednes- 
day; they do not abstain from work, but some always 
fast. They have four orders of hereditary priesthood, 
and, what is very remarkable in Asia, these offices descend 
to women as well as men, and both are treated with equal 
reverence. The higher orders of priests generally wear 
white linen garments, the inferior wear black, or dark 
brown. Every district has a religious head, called a 
Sheik. The office is hereditary in his family, but the 
descendant best qualified by character is chosen to succeed 
him. An order of priests called Pirs, or Saints, are much 
reverenced. Their intercessions for the people are sup- 
posed to have great influence, and it is believed that they 
are invested with power to cure insanity and disease. 
They are expected to lead a very pure and holy life. 

The Yezidis always turn toward the east when they pray, 
and kiss the first objects touched by the rays of the rising 
sun. On great festivals they sacrifice white oxen to the 


Sun, and distribute the flesh among the poor. They 
venerate fire, and suffer nothing unclean to be thrown into 
it. Sheik Adi is their great saint. They have many 
traditions of his interviews with angels. The valley 
where he is buried is a place of pilgrimage. Worshippers 
wash themselves and their garments, and take the shoes 
from their feet, before they step on the hallowed ground. 
A yearly sum is paid to priests, who guard the sacred 
valley from all pollution, keep lamps lighted, and perform 
the appointed ceremonies. The badge of their office is a 
girdle of red and yellow, the colours of fire. On the door 
of the tomb are rudely carved a lion, a serpent, a man, a 
hatchet, and a comb. The serpent is particularly con- 
spicuous. Balls of clay taken from this tomb are sold as 
relics, and believed to be very efficacious against diseases 
and Evil Spirits. A chapter from the Koran is written on 
the interior walls. Only Sheiks and high priests are per- 
mitted to be buried in the vicinity. Near by is a reservoir 
of water, which they believe the saint brought miraculously 
from the holy well of Zem Zem, at Mecca. It is carefully 
guarded from all impurities, and eagerly drank by crowds 
of pilgrims. A low edifice, with a small white spire, is 
called the Sanctuary of the Sun. On a slab, near the door, 
is carved an invocation to the Spirit of the Sun, and it is 
so built that the first rays of that luminary fall upon it. 
The interior is continually lighted by lamps, and is con- 
sidered a very holy place. There are no buildings in all 
the valley, except those for worship and the dwellings of 
resident priests. They are kept very pure with repeated 
coats of whitewash. On the evening of festivals, lamps are 
placed in all the niches of the walls, and in apertures of the 
rocky mountains that enclose this sacred valley. They are 
generally votive offerings from pilgrims, who have prayed 
to the saint in time of danger or distress, and found relief 
from his supposed intercessions. As priests walk by car- 
rying these lamps, pilgrims crowd round them, striving to 
pass their right hands through the flame. They devoutly 
kiss the hand thus purified, and rub the right eyebrow 
Vol. I.—24* 


with it. They hold out little children to have their right 
hands purified in the same way. Those who cannot reach 
the flame, strive to touch the hands of others who are more 
fortunate. They reverently kiss the very stones blackened 
by the smoke of these lamps. 

On the festival of Sheik Adi, his tomb is visited by 
long processions of priests in white linen robes, musicians 
with pipes and tambourines, and pilgrims from all their dis- 
tricts. Peddlers congregate there to sell their wares. Sheiks 
and priests walk familiarly among the people, or sit talk- 
ing with them in the shadows of the trees. Seven or eight 
thousand usually meet together on this occasion, and it is a 
picturesque sight to see them wandering about among the 
trees and rocks with their lighted torches. Layard thus 
describes some of the religious ceremonies he witnessed at 
this festival : " Thousands of lights danced in the distance, 
glimmered among the trees, and were reflected in the foun- 
tains and streams. Suddenly all voices were hushed. A 
solemn strain of sweet pathetic music came from the tomb 
of the saint ; the voices of men and women in harmony 
with flutes. At measured intervals, the song was broken 
by the loud clash of cymbals and tambourines ; and then 
those without the precincts of the tomb joined in the melody. 
The same slow and solemn strain, occasionally varied, lasted 
nearly an hour. Gradually, the chant gave way to a 
lively melody, ever increasing in quickness. Yoices were 
raised to the highest pitch ; women made the rocks resound 
with their shrill tones ; men among the multitude without 
joined in the cry ; tambourines were beaten with extraor- 
dinary energy ; musicians strained their limbs in violent 
contortions, till they fell exhausted on the ground. I 
never heard a more frightful yell than rose in that valley. 
It was midnight. There were no immodest gestures or un- 
seemly ceremonies. When musicians and singers were ex- 
hausted, the sounds died away, groups scattered about the 
valley, and resumed their previous cheerfulness." 

The Yezidis are remarkable for tenacious attachment to 
their religion. A person of mature age among them never 


renounces his faith. They have often been subjected to 
terrible tortures, but have invariably preferred death to the 
adoption of any other form of worship. Even when young 
children are carried off and sold to Turkish harems, they 
often cherish through life the religion of their childhood, 
and contrive to keep up a secret communication with their 



Man gifted Nature with divinity, 

To lift and link her to the breast of love ; 

All things betrayed to the initiate eye 
The tracks of gods above. 

Not to that culture gay, 

Stern self-denial, or sharp penance wan. 

"Well might each heart be happy in that day ; 
For gods, the happy ones, were kin to man. 

Schiller's Gods of Greece. 

Gkeece was the oldest European nation. Its history 
extends a little more than one thousand eight hundred 
years before Christ ; two hundred years earlier than Moses ; 
but they were a rude people at that time, dwelling in huts 
and caves. Being settled by colonies from Egypt, Phoe- 
nicia, Thrace, and other countries, their religious customs 
and opinions varied considerably in different states ; but 
the general features were similar. They worshipped many 
deities, all intended to represent the divine energy acting 
in various departments of the universe. A few enlightened 
minds among them taught that these all proceeded from 
One Central Source of Being; and this belief, confused 
and dim at first, became more distinct as knowledge in- 

Athens was founded by a colony from Egypt, and the 
intercourse between that country and Greece was always 
frequent. The effect of this on their religion and philoso- 
phy is very obvious. But in the Grecian atmosphere of 
thought and feeling all things were tinged with more 
cheerful and poetic colours. Egyptian reverence for sta- 
bility and power was here changed to worship of freedom 


and beauty. Strong, active, and vivacious themselves, the 
Grecians invested their deities with the same characteristics. 
They did not conceive of them as dwelling apart in passion- 
less majesty, like Egyptian gods, with a solemn veil of 
obscurity around them. They were in the midst of things, 
working, fighting, loving, rivalling, and outwitting each 
other, just like human beings, from whom they differed 
mainly in more enlarged powers. No anchorites here 
preached torture of the body for the good of the soul. 
How to enjoy the pleasures of life with prudence, and in- 
vest it with the greatest degree of beauty, was their 
morality. In the procession of the nations, Greece always 
comes bounding before the imagination, like a graceful 
young man in the early freshness of his vigour; and 
nothing can wean a poetic mind from the powerful attrac- 
tion of his immortal beauty. 

Gay, imaginative, pliable, and free, the Grecians received 
religious ideas from every source, and wove them all to- 
gether in a mythological web of fancy, confused and wav- 
ering in its patterns, but full of golden threads. They 
seem to have copied external rites from Egypt, without 
troubling themselves to comprehend the symbolical mean- 
ing, which priests concealed so carefully. They added 
ceremonies and legends from other countries, broken into 
fragments, and mixed together in strange disorder. 

They had no Sacred Books, in the usual meaning of the 
term. Minos, their first lawgiver, was believed to have 
received his laws directly from Jupiter ; and popular 
veneration invested with a certain degree of sacred author- 
ity the poems of Hesiod and Homer, supposed to have 
been written about nine hundred years before Christ. 
These works were believed to be divinely inspired by 
Apollo and the Muses. This was not a mere poetical 
figure of speech with the Grecians, as it would be with us ; 
for they had a lively and undoubting faith that Apollo 
and the Muses were genuine deities, who took cognizance 
of the affairs of men, and filled the souls of prophets and 
poets with divine inspiration. It is said by some that 


Hesiod was a priest in the temple of the Muses, on Mount 
Helicon. He seems to have been desirous to inculcate 
religious reverence, and a love of agriculture. He con- 
demns licentiousness, irreverence to parents, and riches 
procured by fraud or violence. He strongly insists on the 
sacredness of an oath, and the laws of hospitality. He 
teaches to love those who love us, and to return gifts to 
the generous. He recommends withholding friendly offices 
from enemies ; but declares that Jupiter will certainly 
punish those who refuse to pardon a suppliant offender. 
He gives a rather unintelligible account of the creation of 
the world from chaos. One of the most conspicuous agents 
in the work is Love, by which he probably meant the 
Principle of Attraction, drawing the elements into union, 
and producing a series of offspring ; thus by the marriage 
of Heaven and Earth, Ocean was born. The deities, whom 
he describes as intermarrying, fighting, and plotting against 
each other, were the popular Gods of the country, the 
Spirits supposed to preside over planets and elements. He 
tells of huge giants called Titans, born of Heaven and 
Earth. One of them, named Chronos by the Greeks and 
Saturn by the Eomans, dethroned his father Coelus, or 
Heaven, and governed the universe. He is represented as 
devouring his own children ; an allegorical way of saying 
that Time, whose Greek name is Chronos, destroys what- 
ever he produces. One of his sons, named Jupiter, who 
escaped by artifice of his mother, expelled his father, and 
reigned in his stead. . The Titans made war upon him, but 
he succeeded in chaining them all in the dungeons of Tar- 
tarus. These legends are supposed to be symbolical of the 
struggle of the elements when the world was formed. 

Hesiod describes the administration of Saturn as the 
Golden Age of the world. Men lived like gods, without 
vices or passions, vexation or toil. In happy companion- 
ship with divine beings, they passed their days in tran- 
quillity and joy, living together in perfect equality, united 
by mutual confidence and love. The earth was more beau- 
tiful than now, and spontaneously yielded an abundant 


variety of fruits. Human beings and animals spoke the 
"Same language, and conversed freely together. Men were 
considered mere boys at a hundred years old. They had 
none of the infirmities of age to trouble them, and when 
they passed to regions of superior life, it was in a gentle 
slumber. Then followed the Silver Age, when the lives 
of men were shortened on account of their neglect of the 
gods, and injustice toward each other. This was succeeded 
by a Brazen Age of turbulence and insecurity. This de- 
generated still more into the Iron Age, corresponding to 
the Cali Yug of the Hindoos. Hesiod laments that his 
own birth happened in this unfortunate period of time, 
when the life of man is but a span, when fraud, violence, 
calumny, and all manner of crimes and diseases, everywhere 

Homer resembles Hesiod in his ideas of vice and virtue, 
Superior power, not moral excellence, is the essential ele- 
ment in his conception of divine beings. He represents 
them as very human in their passions, motives, and actions. 
They enjoy oblations of bread, wine, fruit, and the sacrifice 
of animals, as one man enjoys the hospitality of another. 
They are wrathful and relentless when offended, and can 
be appeased only by prayers and gifts. They fall in love 
with mortal women, by whom a race of demi-gods are pro- 
duced. They resort to all manner of trickery and violence 
to accomplish their purposes. Thus Pallas Athena is rep- 
resented as" obtaining permission from Zeus to tempt Pan- 
darus to violate a treaty solemnly sworn to. Such treachery 
is described as meritorious, by the Greek poets, because it 
was exercised in favour of their own nation. 

A direct supernatural agency guides and controls all 
things, great and small. Birth, death, health, beauty, 
riches, all that a man is, and all that he has, are attributed 
to the gods. Every phenomenon of nature, every great 
thought, and noble impulse, is ascribed to divine agency. 
Any person highly gifted is supposed to be peculiarly 
dear to the deity who presides over that gift. Poets and 
prophets receive their inspiration from Phoebus, and Helen 


owes her extraordinary beauty to the partiality of Aphro- 
dite. Even a hearty laugh is ascribed to the genial influ- 
ence of the gods. A constant living intercourse is sup- 
posed to exist between them and mortals. They descend 
visibly to this earth to converse with mankind. They 
often visit cities in the disguise of travellers, to inspect the 
conduct of men. 

Wrong and foolish actions are likewise attributed to 
supernatural influence. Helen ascribes her elopement from 
her husband to an infatuation implanted in her heart by 
Aphrodite. A man, who goes out without his cloak in a 
cold night, is represented as saying : " A god deceived me 
that I did this thing." * 

The rewards of vice and virtue in another life, and all 
that is said of the condition of departed souls, is exceed- 
ingly dim and shadowy. 

Succeeding poets enlarged and embellished the history 
of the gods, sometimes from their own imagination, some- 
times from the traditions of various other nations ; and the 
populace received it all with the ready credulity of bright, 
elastic, youthful natures. Many of the subordinate deities 
are obviously mere personifications of the elements and 
the forces of nature. Thus the violence of the ocean is 
represented as Poseidon swallowing thousands of victims. 
It is to be presumed that most of these legends were in- 
tended to convey, in allegorical form, some truth, physical 
or metaphysical, astronomical or moral ; but at this distance 
of time, and with altogether foreign habits of thought, we 
can with difficulty perceive here and there a gleam of 
meaning ; especially in the numerous amours of the gods, 
which, if taken literally, would make them appear more 
sensual than mortals. 

A religion composed of such various and flexible frag- 
ments, of course left great freedom of construction to the 
worshippers. But the conservative principle which pre- 
vents all erratic things from flying entirely out of their 
orbits, came in, to check the excess of Grecian freedom. 
Gods from other countries were continually adopted into 


their Pantheon, but this was never done until the formal 
sanction of the state had been obtained. When rites and 
festivals were once established, and the populace had in- 
vested them with the sacredness which belongs to time- 
hallowed usages, it was extremely difficult for government 
to abolish them. Thus the custom of running naked 
through the streets at the festival in honour of Pan, called 
Lupercalia, was continued long after a large portion of the 
community had come to regard it as indecent. 

All their deities bear traces of a foreign origin, and the 
histories told of them are obviously the mixed legends of 
various nations. That their prominent deities were Spirits 
of the Planets, is indicated by their names; Apollo the Sun, 
Diana the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and 
Yenus. Like Hindoos and Egyptians, they consecrated 
the days successively to these Planetary Spirits. The 
seventh day was sacred to Saturn, from time immemorial. 
Homer and Hesiod call it the holy day. 

Zeus, whom Eomans called Jupiter, was differently 
represented at different epochs of their history. As the 
Son of Heaven, with Metis, the wisest of deities, for his 
wife, he resembles Brahma of Hindostan, and Amun of 
Egypt. Hesiod and Homer describe him as the Supreme 
Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, the Father of Gods and 
men; strengthening the Weak, sustaining the strong, seeing 
past, present,, and future, at a glance, and subject to noth- 
ing except the unalterable decrees of the Fates. He alone 
never appears in person on the stage of human affairs. 
He is so highly exalted above all beings, that he needs the 
agency of mediators to converse with mortals. Greeks, as 
well as Hindoos and Egyptians, believed in an element 
above the air, called ether. Some descriptions of Jupiter 
represent him as Son of Ether, armed with a thunderbolt, 
surrounded by moon and stars. This is a reappearance of 
Indra, the Hindoo god of the Firmament; and in this 
capacity he is married to his sister Juno, who represented 
the Air, and had Iris, the Eainbow, for her attendant and 
messenger. According to another account, Jupiter was the 
Vol. J.— 25 n 


Son of Saturn, or Time, and Rhea, the Earth. Cretans 
were accustomed to show the grotto on Mount Ida where 
he was said to be born, and the sepulchre where he was 
buried. But these traditions excited the ridicule and in- 
dignation of other Greeks. "All this is fiction," exclaims 
Callimachus; "for thou, Father, livest forever." 

Pallas Athena, whom Romans called Minerva, resem- 
bles the Hindo Sereswati, and the Egyptian Keith. She 
was goddess of wisdom, presiding over philosophy, poetry, 
arts, sciences, and military tactics. She is represented as 
for ever by the side of Jupiter, from whose brain she was 

Dionysus, or Bacchus, was god of wine and vintage. 
He resembles Osiris in one department of his beneficence ; 
namely, that of introducing the cultivation of vines. There 
is great similarity between Rama, Osiris, and Bacchus, in 
several of their adventures, and the ceremonials of their 
worship. They are all represented as having taught men 
agricultural arts, and performed great exploits in India. 

Demeter, or Ceres, is Isis limited to the cultivation of the 
earth and the protection of harvests. 

Hermes, or Mercury, was god of merchants, orators, and 
thieves. Like Thoth, he was messenger between gods and 
men, and conducted departed souls to the Judges of the 

Pan, god of generation, was represented, like the Egyp- 
tian Kham, with the body and legs of a goat. His name 
signifies All, and was bestowed upon him because the 
generative principle pervades all things in the universe. 

Rhea and Cybele were two very ancient goddesses, whose 
worship was introduced from different countries, and in 
process of time mixed together. They both represented 
the Earth, or Nature in her productive power. One of 
their names was Maia, the Hindoo name for the goddess of 

Aphrodite, or Yenus, goddess of beauty and pleasure, 
like the Hindoo Parvati, was born of the foam of the sea, 
and was the mother of Love. 


Eros, or Cupid, god of love, is represented, like the 
Cama of the Hindoos, as a mischievous boy, armed with 
bow and arrows. 

The central figure in Grecian mythology was Phoebus, 
or Apollo. He was god of light, of poetry, eloquence, 
and medicine, but was especially honoured as presiding 
over prophecy. As god of medicine, he was originally 
worshipped under the form of a Serpent, and men invoked 
him as the Helper. In later times, his worship was con- 
founded with that of Helios, the visible sun ; but, like the 
Hindoo Crishna, he was the representative of spiritual 
light and warmth. Poets sometimes called him "king of 
intellectual fire." Perhaps, like the Persian Mithras, he 
was the attendant Ferver, or guardian angel of the visible 
luminary. He excelled in music, and is often represented 
playing on a flute, with the nine Muses dancing round him, 
like the nine Gopias of Hindostan. Like Crishna, he is 
said to have killed a huge venomous serpent in his child- 
hood, and to have performed the duties of a shepherd many 
years in the family of Admetus. Egyptians consecrated 
the island of Philse, where Osiris and his twin sister Isis 
were said to have been born. Greeks had a tradition that 
the island of Delos had risen suddenly from the sea to pro- 
vide a birth-place for Apollo and his twin sister, Phoebe, 
or Diana. No dog was allowed to approach the sacred 
island, no mortal was permitted to be born or die there, and 
no diseased" person to remain. On the sea-shore stood a 
very beautiful temple of Apollo, the altar of which was 
never stained with blood. 

In Greek mythology there was no one deity to represent 
the power of evil. Zeus was supposed to distribute good 
gifts from an urn at his right hand, and evil from an urn 
at his left. Among the subordinate deities several were 
of malign influence. Hades, whom Eomans called Pluto, 
reigned in dismal subterranean regions, seated on a throne 
of sulphur, presiding over death and funerals. His coun- 
tenance was gloomy and stern. Men erected no temples 
to him. The only sacrifices offered were black animals, 


and their blood was not sprinkled on altars, but poured 
into holes in the ground. All unlucky things were sacred 
to him, especially the number two. Around his throne 
were seated the three Eumenides, or Furies, employed to 
execute the vengeance of the gods. On earth they inflicted 
war, pestilence, famine, and remorse. In the regions of 
Pluto, they scourged sinners with scorpions and tormented 
them continually. They were represented with bloody 
garments, frightful countenances, and snakes wreathed in 
their hair. Mortals feared to utter their names, or look 
up at their temples as they passed. If any person guilty 
of crime dared to approach their altars, it was supposed he 
would be instantly deprived of reason. The Parcse, or 
Fates, were depicted as three old women, who spun the 
thread of life and cut it in twain. Black sheep were an- 
nually sacrificed to them, but no prayers were ever offered, 
because it was believed that not even Jupiter himself could 
change their inexorable decrees. It was supposed that no 
person could die, unless Proserpine, wife of Pluto, or one 
of the Fates, cut some hairs from his head. It was cus- 
tomary to strew the hair of the deceased on the threshold 
of the door, as an offering to them. 

Every district and town had some tutelary deity to pre- 
side over it, who was supposed to be peculiarly connected 
with its welfare. Athenians considered themselves under 
the especial protection of Minerva, and Eleans placed 
themselves under the guardianship of Olympian Jupiter. 
It was deemed very hazardous to the prosperity, and even 
to the safety, of a state or district, to neglect any of the 
accustomed worship to their tutelary deity ; therefore they 
never abandoned any of the ancient gods, though they in- 
troduced many new ones. They believed that the priests 
were possessed of knowledge, originally revealed from 
above, which enabled them to perform the ceremonies and 
repeat the words necessary to bring down Celestial Spirits 
into statues, and even into pillars and consecrated stones ; 
and that prayers addressed to these visible objects were 
heard by the deities to whom they were dedicated, 


Those who gained money by these images and ceremonies 
naturally encouraged the multiplication of them. To such 
an extent was this carried, that in Kome, fever, coughing, 
and sneezing, had each a separate deity. 

They believed that departed human souls lingered 
around their former habitations and families, to protect 
them. They invoked them in time of domestic trouble, 
and offered sacrifices to appease them, when they thought 
they had been wronged, or were angry. They erected re- 
markable tombs, and at stated seasons repaired thither to 
offer prayers and oblations to the spirits of departed 
ancestors, whom they called Manes. The offerings gen- 
erally consisted of flowers, fruit, wine, and incense ; but 
sometimes animals were sacrificed, and even human beings. 
Religious rites, observed with regard to ancestors, are sup- 
posed to have introduced the worship of their spirits, under 
the name of Lares and Penates, household gods, protectors 
of home and hearthstone. Their images, made of silver, 
ivory, or wax, were worn about the neck, or kept in some 
safe, secluded corner of every house, and received the 
same oblations usually offered to the Manes. In process 
of time, altars and statues were erected to ancestors, as 
well as magnificent tombs, and every individual was at 
liberty to confer such honours on his progenitors. If a man 
had gained great victories, introduced useful inventions, or 
been distinguished for wisdom, the people naturally carried 
offerings to his altar, in token of gratitude. This was the 
beginning of Hero Worship, which prevailed very exten- 
sively in Greece and Rome. The old Hindoo idea con- 
cerning the ascending destiny of holy men, was transferred 
to brave men and national benefactors. Their souls, when 
released from the body, were supposed to become demi- 
gods, and to perform the office of mediators between mortals 
and the great deities. It was a common belief that they 
became stars. A comet that appeared soon after the death 
of Julius Caesar was supposed to indicate his reception 
among the gods. The emperor Adrian named a new star 
for the beautiful Antinous, his deceased favourite, whose 
Vol. I.— -25* 


soul he supposed had in that form taken its station in the 
heavens. An immortal father or mother was generally 
assigned to the men who became demigods. iEsculapius, 
celebrated for his skill in medicine, was said to be the son 
of Apollo, from whom he derived the divine gift. The 
goddess Thetis gave birth to Achilles, renowned for mili- 
tary exploits. Hercules, who relieved the earth from many 
monsters and tyrants, was the son of Jupiter by a mortal 
mother. When his body was placed on the funeral pile, a 
cloud descended, on which he was carried up in a chariot 
to Olympus, amid peals of thunder. There he became a 
god, and married Hebe, goddess of immortal youth. His 
friends, being unable to find his bones or ashes, manifested 
gratitude to his memory by erecting an altar on the spot 
where the burning pile had stood. 

In addition to gods and demigods, every department of 
the universe was filled with Spirits, whom Greeks called 
Demons, whether their offices were good or evil. The good 
were called Agatho-demons, and the bad Caco-demons. 
Hesiod says : 

" Thrice ten thousand holy demons rove 
This breathing world ; the immortals sent from Jove. 
Guardians of men, their glance alike surveys 
The upright judgments and the unrighteous ways, 
Hovering they glide to earth's extremest bound, 
A cloud aerial veils their forms around." 

Nine nymphs, called Muses, the favourite companions of 
Apollo, presided over music, dancing, poetry, and all the 
liberal arts. The god of Love delighted to spend his 
nights with them in dance and song. They are repre- 
sented as daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne, goddess of 
Memory, because memory and creative intellect combine 
to produce the arts. Hesiod calls them: 

"The thrice three sacred maids, whose minds are knit 
In harmony, whose only thought is song. 
They sing the laws of universal heaven, 
And the pure manners of immortal gods. 
Anon they bend their footsteps toward the mount, 


Rejoicing in their beauteous voice, and song 
Unperishing. Far round, the dusky earth 
Rings with their hymning voices ; and beneath 
Their many rustling feet a pleasant sound 
Ariseth, as they take their onward way 
To their own father's presence." 

In the same temple with the Muses were worshipped the 
Graces, likewise called Charities ; three beautiful nymphs, 
presiding over gracious manners and all kindly offices. 
This united worship was an instructive custom, since cul- 
tivation of mind should always lead to moral graces. 

There were countless genii to take care of hills, and 
streams, and flowers. Oreads frequented mountains, where 
they sat " listening to the talking streams below," sounding 
"sweet echoes to the huntsman's horn." Napeads pro- 
tected valleys and shaded nooks. Dryads loved the groves, 
where the imaginative eye saw them dance in the bright 
play of sun and shadow. Ephydriads reclined near springs 
and fountains, lulled by the rippling waters. Naiads swam 
playfully in the rivers, and Nereids careered on the ocean 

Olympus, which early Greeks considered the loftiest 
mountain in the world, was believed to be the dwelling- 
place of the gods. Over its top there was supposed to be 
an opening into the metallic dome of heaven. In after 
times, when their ideas of the universe enlarged, they said 
divine beings dwelt in the exterior sphere of the heavens, 
revolving round the space which included the planets ; and 
this residence above the firmament they called Olympus 

The Hindoo idea of a subtile invisible body within the 
material body, reappeared in the descriptions of Greek 
poets. They represented the constitution of man as con- 
sisting of three principles : the soul, the invisible body, 
and the material body. The invisible body they called the 
ghost or shade, and considered it as the material portion 
of the soul. At death, the soul clothed in this subtile body 
went to enjoy paradise for a season, or suffer in hell till its 


sins were expiated. Then if the Judges of the Dead had 
decreed it to exist again on earth, it returned and took a 
material body, more or less honourable, according to its 
sentence. But when the souls of heroes joined the gods, 
to return no more to earthly habitations, they parted with 
this subtile body, and it wandered in Elysium. Ulysses de- 
clares that he saw there the divine Hercules; "of rather 
his shade, for he himself was with the immortal gods, as- 
sisting at their festivals." The paradise, which they called 
Elysian Fields, some supposed to be part of the lower 
world, some placed them in a middle zone of the air, 
some in the moon, and others in far-off isles of the 
ocean. There shone more glorious sun and stars than illu- 
minate this world. The day was always serene, the air 
forever pure, and a soft celestial light clothed all things in 
transfigured beauty. Majestic groves, verdant meadows, 
and blooming gardens, varied the landscape. The river 
Eridanus flowed through winding banks fringed with 
laurel. On its borders lived heroes who had died for their 
country, priests who had led a pure life, artists who had 
embodied genuine beauty in their works, and poets who 
had never degraded their muse with subjects unworthy of 
Apollo. There each one renewed the pleasures in which 
he formerly delighted. Orpheus, in long white robes, 
made enrapturing music on his lyre, while others danced 
and sung. The husband rejoined his beloved wife; old 
friendships were renewed ; the poet repeated his verses, and 
the charioteer managed his horses. Some poets, rather 
sensually inclined, describe luxurious feasts, and say noth- 
ing can be more mean than the entertainments in Tartarus. 
In a retired valley, through a dark grove, drowsily glided 
the sluggish stream of Lethe. When the time arrived for 
souls to return again to earth, they were presented with a 
cup of its waters, which made them forget all they had seen 
and heard. 

The subterranean realm where Pluto ruled, was called 
by the Greeks Hades, and by the Eomans Tartarus. It 
was a deep, dark, awful region, encircled by a river of fire, 


and surrounded by a triple wall. Here in the deepest pits 
were chained the proud Spirits called Titans, who rebelled 
against Jupiter. Here the condemned were scourged with 
snakes by the Furies ; or were seated under a huge stone 
for ever ready to fall, wishing to move, but unable ; or 
hungry wolves gnawed the liver, which for ever grew 
again ; or they were consumed with thirst, standing in 
water that constantly eluded their touch. Some souls 
wandered in vast forests between Tartarus and Elysium, 
not good enough for one, or bad enough for the other. 
Some were purified from their sins by exposure to search- 
ing winds, others by being submerged in deep waters, 
others by passing through intense fires. After a long 
period of probation and suffering, many of them gained 
the Elysian Fields. When they had enjoyed a period pro- 
portioned to their merits, they were sent back to earth to 
take mortal bodies again. A few of the purest and noblest 
ascended to the gods. 

The dead were represented as being ferried across the 
dark river Acheron to the regions of Pluto, by the boat- 
man Charon, for whom a small coin was placed under the 
tongue of the deceased. He refused to carry over those 
who had not received burial in this world ; they were ob- 
liged to wander on the banks for a whole century. In al- 
lusion to this, Yirgil says : 

" There stood the ghosts, and stretched their hands and cried, 
Imploring passage to the other side." 

The shade of Patroclus thus spoke to Achilles in a dream : 

" Thou sleep'st, Achilles ; and Patroclus, erst 
Thy best beloved, in death forgotten lies. 
Haste, give me burial ! I would pass the gates 
Of Hades ; for the shadows of the dead 
Now drive me from their fellowship afar." 

These ideas originated in Egyptian customs ; a fact which 
may be traced even in the names. On the banks of the 
Nile was a beautiful plain, surrounded by groves, and in- 


tersected with canals. It lay beyond Lake Acherusia, and 
being a celebrated place of interment, it was called Elisiasns, 
meaning Best. On the borders of the lake was a tribunal 
to inquire into the character of the deceased. If his life 
had been wicked, they refused to convey his body to the 
cemetery, and it was thrown into a ditch prepared for the 
purpose, called Tartar. If the decision of the judges was 
favourable, eulogiums were publicly passed on his memory, 
and after the priests had received a small fee, his remains 
were conveyed across the lake into Elisisens. 

The Greeks had an ancient tradition concerning a Tree 
which grew in gardens of Paradise, and bore the golden 
Apples of Immortality. It was guarded by three nymphs, 
and a great Serpent. It was one of the labours of Hercules 
to gather some of these Apples of life. Ancient medallions 
represent the Tree with a Serpent twined round it. Her- 
cules has gathered an Apple, and near him stand the three 
nymphs, called Hesperides. 

There were several hereditary classes in Greece, but 
there was no law of caste to exclude men from any em- 
ployment they chose, or from the investigation of any sub- 
ject. In times as ancient as Homer, any man venerable 
for age or wisdom offered prayers and sacrifices to the 
gods, and performed religious ceremonies for the people. 
As the country grew older, the priesthood became more 
established and conspicuous ; but an element of freedom 
was always preserved, which rendered their influence very 
different from that of the exclusive caste of priests in Hin- 
dostan and Egypt, This circumstance doubtless contri- 
buted much toward that intellectual energy and freedom 
of inquiry which so eminently characterized the ancient 
Greeks. In some places, the priesthood was hereditary in 
certain families. In others, the prince conferred the office 
on whomsoever he deemed worthy. Sometimes priests 
were elected by lot, sometimes by votes of the people. 
They were required to be of good moral character, in 
sound health, and not deformed in any way ; it being 
deemed irreverent to consecrate to the gods any thing im- 


pure or defective. They were usually chosen from the 
upper classes, and on all public occasions they took their 
places with kings and the highest civil officers. In most 
of the cities the care of worship was intrusted to chief 
magistrates, who were often themselves consecrated to the 
priesthood. In some places the king was high priest, and 
all important sacrifices for the good of the commonwealth 
were performed by him only. On private or ordinary oc- 
casions, the father of the family, or the oldest and most 
honourable man present, might perform religious rites. 
But when any great calamity was to be averted, or extra- 
ordinary blessing to be obtained, they sought the services 
of the priesthood ; believing that the gods had especially 
commissioned them, and were more ready to hear their 
prayers than those of other men. On such occasions, they 
often ascended mountains to ask counsel of the gods ; such 
places being invested with peculiar sanctity, and deemed 
nearer to the deities than other portions of the earth. They 
often performed ablutions in running streams, or were 
sprinkled with consecrated water, as a necessary prepara- 
tion for religious ceremonies. All those intrusted with re- 
ligious affairs were summoned at stated periods to appear 
before certain magistrates and give an account how they 
had discharged their duties. In small places, one priest 
fulfilled all the sacred offices, but in large cities they had 
various grades of assistants. Each god had a chief priest 
and subordinate priests ; and in every state was a Supreme 
Pontiff, whose duty it was to superintend the others, and 
preside at the highest and most sacred rites. Some, who 
were devoted to the most elevated functions of worship, 
lived retired from worldly affairs, and observed the strictest 
temperance and chastity. They drank juice of hemlock 
and other herbs, to keep the blood cool and the passions in 
subjection. Some even deprived themselves of manhood, 
from the idea that they could serve the gods with more 
purity. A class of them were called Prophets, and ex- 
pounded oracles. In some places, these never tasted ani- 
mal food, or any thing boiled. Some orders were allowed 


to marry, but second unions were deemed disreputable. 
Indeed, in the early days of strictness, to have been twice 
married excluded a man from the priesthood. A tenth 
part of the harvests, the mines, and the spoils taken in war, 
were appropriated to the service of the gods. The priests 
had a prescribed share, and many of them were wealthy. 

From Egypt was introduced an order of priests called 
Asclepiades, descendants of iEsculapius, god of medicine. 
The results of medical experience acquired in the temples, 
they divulged only to the initiated, under solemn promise 
of secresy. A healing and prophetic serpent was kept in 
their temples, and the staff of iEsculapius was represented 
wreathed with a serpent. These medical priests applied 
magnetic remedies by the motion of their hands, sought to 
induce soothing dreams, and operated on the imagination 
of patients by charms and conjurations. They carefully 
observed the course of diseases, and noted down the results 
of their practice. The populace considered them both 
prophets and physicians. Aristides eulogized their skill 
at Smyrna, and the first practical physician in Eome, twenty 
years before Christ, was of their order. In later times 
foreigners were freely admitted to their schools. They 
were the founders of modern scientific medicine. 

Women were admitted to the Grecian priesthood, shared 
its highest dignities, and in such capacities were regarded 
with great veneration. Several of them are mentioned as 
wives and mothers, and they seem generally to have been 
dignified and exemplary matrons. They were of various 
orders, superior and inferior, and were assisted by young 
girls of the highest families, who gathered flowers, wove 
garlands, and embroidered veils for the statues. In the 
temples of Yenus, and also of Cybele, were troops of young 
men and women employed as dancers ; mostly slaves sent 
as gifts to the goddess. They are often represented on 
antique vases, standing on tiptoe, with arms gracefully 
raised, turning their slender forms in the undulating move- 
ments of some sacred dance. All the money these women 
received from their lovers was paid into the treasury of 


the priests. Several temples of Yenus were built with 
funds thus obtained. 

The Eomans instituted an order of priestesses, six in 
number, called the Yestal Virgins. They were required 
to be of good family, free from bodily defects, and not 
more than ten years old, or less than six, at the time of 
consecration. They took a vow of strict chastity, the 
breach of which was supposed to bring calamities on the 
whole people. If any one was detected in breaking this 
vow, she was buried alive. In the course of the thousand 
years, during which this order existed, only thirteen were 
thus punished for violation of their oath. They wore long 
white linen robes, with a white vest edged with purple. 
Their hair was cut short and bound with a close fillet. It 
was their business to keep the sacred fire of Vesta burning 
perpetually on the altar of her temple day and night, to 
offer prayers and sacrifices for the good of the state, and 
instruct their successors in office. If the fire chanced to 
go out, it was deemed an omen of some great national 
calamity. In such a case, the careless Vestal was severely 
scourged by the High Priest, and the fire was rekindled 
from rays of the sun brought to a focus with something 
like burning glasses ; the process being accompanied with 
solemn ceremonies and prayers. When these priestesses 
appeared in public, they were treated with the greatest 
veneration. Any insult to them was a capital offence. If 
they met a criminal on his way to execution, he was set at 
liberty, if they declared the meeting accidental. They 
were handsomely maintained at public expense, and after 
thirty years of service, were at liberty either to remain in 
the temple, or go out and marry. Polygamy was discoun- 
tenanced in Greece, and forbidden by law in Eome. 

Oblations and sacrifices to the gods varied at different 
epochs of time, and according to the characters of the 
deities. In the rude ages, it was customary to sacrifice 
beautiful girls to Cybele ; but afterward, in lieu of this, 
they made a present of slaves to her temple. Young 
maidens used to be sacrificed to Diana, but afterward they 
Vol. I.— 26 


were merely scourged at her altar. It was often supposed 
the gods demanded the sacrifice of a human being, to atone 
for some sin, or avert some calamity. When the Greek 
army was detained at Aulis, by contrary winds, the augurs 
being consulted, declared that one of the kings had offended 
Diana, and she demanded the sacrifice of his daughter 
Iphigenia. It was like taking the father's life-blood, but 
he was persuaded that it was his duty to submit for the 
good of his country. The maiden was brought forth for 
sacrifice, in spite of her tears and supplications ; but just 
as the priest was about to strike the fatal blow, Iphigenia 
suddenly disappeared, and a goat of uncommon beauty 
stood in her place. The priests judged by favourable 
omens that the gods accepted the animal for sacrifice, and 
the princess was consecrated to the service of Diana's tem- 
ple. In Sparta, it being declared upon one occasion that 
the gods demanded a human victim, the choice was made 
by lot, and fell on a damsel named Helena. But when all 
was in readiness, an eagle descended, carried away the 
priest's knife, and laid it on the head of a heifer, which 
was sacrificed in her stead. The Spartans henceforth abol- 
ished such immolations, considering this an omen that they 
were not acceptable to the deities. Such sacrifices were 
always rare among the Grecians, and when they did occur, 
it was usually in obedience to some oracle. The infernal 
gods, and the manes of ancestors, were supposed peculiarly 
to require human victims. Prisoners taken in war were 
frequently offered to appease the ghosts of those who had 
been slain by their countrymen. Achilles sacrificed twelve 
young Trojans at the funeral of his friend Patroclus. 
Aristomenes sacrificed three hundred captives at once, one 
of whom was a king of Sparta. The custom was never 
favoured at Eome. Numa, who succeeded Eomulus, mani- 
fested extreme reluctance to offer human sacrifices. Len- 
tulus, Consul of Rome about seventy years before Christ, 
prohibited the practice. Tiberius, fourteen years after our 
era, and Adrian one hundred and seventeen years after, 
published edicts to the same effect. Commodus, more 


than half a century afterward, offered a human victim to 
Mithra. Yerj rare instances are said to have occurred 
in some parts of the Eoman empire as late as our fourth 

The old Braminical idea that every sin must have its 
prescribed amount of punishment, and that the gods would 
accept the life of one person as atonement for the sins of 
others, prevailed also in Greece and Eome ; but there it 
mainly took the form of heroic self-sacrifice for the public 
good. Cicero says: "The force of religion was so great 
among our ancestors, that some of their commanders have, 
with their faces veiled, and with the strongest expressions 
of sincerity, sacrificed themselves to the immortal gods to 
save their country." An oracle having declared that the 
Athenians would overcome the Thracians if the daughter 
of the king was sacrificed to the gods, she cheerfully 
offered to die. Afterwards, his three other daughters 
volunteered themselves as victims, to avert a pestilence, 
supposed to be sent in punishment for the sins of the 
people. The plague was stayed, and the public testified 
gratitude by erecting a temple to their memory. In times 
of calamity it was common in some parts of Italy for a 
young man to offer himself as an expiatory sacrifice to 
Apollo. He was very richly dressed, and after certain 
religious ceremonies ran full speed to a precipice, whence 
he threw himself into the sea. Codrus, the last king of 
Athens, sought death in the fore-front of the battle, be- 
cause an oracle had declared that they whose general 
should be slain would gain the victory. It is recorded 
that three hundred and sixty-two years before our era, the 
earth opened in the Eoman forum, and pestilential vapors 
issued from the chasm. An oracle declared it would close 
whenever that which constituted the glory of Eome should 
be thrown into it. A noble youth, named Marcus Curtius, 
inquired whether anything in Eome was more precious 
than arms and courage. The oracle having answered in 
the negative, he arrayed himself in armour, mounted a 
horse richly caparisoned, solemnly devoted himself to 


death in presence of the people, and leaped into the abys3 7 
which instantly closed over him. 

In primitive ages, when men lived mostly on vegetables, 
they offered only water, grain, salt, fruit, and flowers to 
the gods, to propitiate them, and thereby obtain temporal 
blessings. But when they began to eat meat and spices 
and drink wine, they offered the same ; naturally supposing 
the deities would be pleased with whatever was useful or 
agreeable to themselves. They imagined that some gods 
were partial to human victims, some to animals, others to 
fruit and flowers. To the celestial gods they offered white 
victims, at sunrise, or in open day. To the Manes, and 
infernal deities, they sacrificed black animals in the night. 
Each god had some creature peculiarly devoted to his 
worship. They sacrificed a bull to Mars, a dove to Yenus, 
and to Minerva, a heifer without blemish, which had never 
been put to the yoke. If a man was too poor to sacrifice 
a living animal, he offered an image of one made with 
bread. The aerial deities were thought to delight in har- 
monious sounds ; therefore, while they sacrificed to them, 
they played on musical instruments, and danced round the 
altar, singing sacred hymns. Most of the ancient nations 
believed the gods were affected by music, the same as men. 
The temples were full of votive offerings, such as garlands, 
crowns, vases, and golden cups. In the temples of JEscu- 
lapius were a multitude of eyes, ears, hands, feet, and 
other members of the human body, made of wax, silver, 
or gold, and presented by those whom the god had cured 
of blindness, deafness, and other diseases. Sailors carried 
small ships to Neptune, in token of gratitude for being 
saved from shipwreck. Fishermen suspended nets in 
honour of the Nereids. Groves consecrated to Pan were 
hung with pipes and garlands, by shepherds, thankful for 
the multiplication of their flocks and herds. Sometimes 
tablets were affixed to the walls of temples, explaining the 
cause of the offering. In solemn promises and contracts, 
men invoked the gods, and women the goddesses. They 
swore by the Manes of ancestors, by the Spirits of sun, 


moon, stars, earth, and rivers ; but they deemed it irrev- 
erent to do so on slight occasions. Before every under- 
taking, great or small, all classes invoked the assistance 
of the gods. They burned incense, or poured libations of 
wine on the altars, with prayers, before they started on a 
journey, or entertained a stranger, or retired to sleep. 
At the rising and setting of the sun or moon, people 
throughout Greece might be seen prostrating themselves, 
and uttering invocations to the deities. Humble depen- 
dence on the gods, and frequent prayers, were everywhere 
strictly inculcated. Mortals were taught to expect divine 
assistance in the hour of need in proportion to the number 
and value of their offerings. Some carried their devotional 
feelings to such an extreme degree, that they spent nearly 
all their time in offering prayers and sacrifices. The most 
universal and earnest entreaty was that their children 
might survive them ; it being considered a great misfor- 
tune to leave no one in the world who would consider it 
a sacred duty to perform religious ceremonies for their de- 
parted souls. The Spartans never used but one form of 
prayer, and that was very laconic : " May the gods grant 
whatever is honourable and good for us, and enable us to 
endure misfortunes." In every part of Greece the hearth- 
stone was sacred to Yesta, goddess of fire. If any wan- 
derer took refuge there, though he might be the most 
deadly enemy, he was safe from hostility, and had his 
wants supplied. They not only scrupulously observed all 
the religious rites handed down by their ancestors, but in 
Athens they kept a solemn feast every new moon in 
honour of all the gods, including those of nations with 
whom they were connected by commerce. So fearful 
were they of omitting any, they even erected altars to 
unknown gods. The welfare of individuals and the pros- 
perity of the state was supposed to be hazarded by any 
neglect of the established worship. Cicero says: "We 
may be assured that Kome owes her grandeur and success 
to the conduct of those who were tenacious of their reli- 
gious duties." 
Vol. I.— 26* 


On some great national occasions, they sacrificed a hun- 
dred, or even a thousand, animals at a time. All persons 
admitted to solemn sacrifices were required to abstain from 
sensual pleasures for several days previous, and perform 
ceremonies of purification with water brought from fresh, 
flowing streams. In the vestibule of temples stood a 
marble vase filled with holy water, with which all who 
were admitted to the interior were sprinkled as they passed. 
"Water consecrated by priests was considered efficacious as 
a preservative from evil, and to cleanse from all pollution. 
It was called Lustral Water, from a word signifying to 
purify. It was used to sprinkle the markets, the fountains, 
and the streets of cities, in time of pestilence, and was 
always employed at funerals ; the presence of death being 
regarded as contaminating. 

The priests wore rich robes, of colours suited to the occa- 
sion, and not bound by any girdle. They sacrificed to 
Ceres in white, to the celestial gods in purple, and to the 
infernal ones in black. If they had touched a dead body, 
or a diseased person, or their garments had been in any 
way polluted, it was unlawful for them to officiate. Some- 
times they wore a mitre, and were always crowned with 
laurel, or other garlands. While they prayed, they held 
green branches in their hands, usually of laurel or olive. 
If doubtful whether their petitions would be granted, they 
touched the knees of the statues with these boughs ; if 
hopeful, they touched the right hand, but never the left, 
because that was deemed unlucky. Sometimes, in extreme 
humility of supplication, they kissed the feet of the statue, 
and knelt or prostrated themselves on the ground. They 
prayed to the celestial gods with hands uplifted toward 
heaven, or the image of him they addressed, and concluded 
by kissing their right hand to the statue ; but when they 
invoked the subterranean deities, they turned their hands 
downward. The animals to be sacrificed, having been 
examined by the priests and pronounced unblemished, 
were led to the temple covered with garlands. Sometimes, 
on occasions of solemn thanksgiving, their horns were 


gilded. The altar was tliree times sprinkled by dipping a 
laurel branch in holy water, and the people assembled 
round it were three times sprinkled also. Frankincense 
was taken from the censer with three fingers, and strewed 
upon the altar three times ; that number being scrupulously 
observed in most religious ceremonies, because an oracle 
had declared that all sacred things ought to be in threes. 
Before the sacrifice, the chief priest called upon the assem- 
bly to unite with him in prayer that the gods would accept 
their offerings, and grant them health and happiness. He 
then took a cup of wine, and having tasted it himself, he 
caused the people to do the same, and poured the remainder 
between the horns of the victim. If the beast escaped the 
sacrificing stroke, or struggled, or bellowed, it was thought 
an unlucky omen. Portions were reserved for the priests 
and servitors of the temple, and the remainder was burned 
with frankincense and wine. When the ceremonies were 
all completed, they had a grand feast. 

They used awful forms of imprecation to invoke the 
infernal deities. The curses of parents, kings, priests, or 
prophets, were peculiarly dreaded ; it being thought there 
was no possible way to avoid the effects. Homer thus 
describes a woman whose son had killed his uncle : 

" She beat the ground, and called the Powers beneath 
On her own son to wreak her brother's death. 
Hell heard her curses from the realms profound, 
And the red fiends that walk their nightly round." 

Alcibiades being accused of mutilating the statues of 
Hermes, and imitating the Mysteries of Ceres, was sen- 
tenced to exile from Athens, and to be cursed by all the 
priests and priestesses. They all obeyed except Theano, 
who said she was appointed to the priesthood to bless and 
not to curse. It was a common opinion that prayers 
were more efficacious in an ancient tongue, because gods 
better liked the primitive language of men, as being 
nearer to nature. Hence it was usual for magicians to pro- 
nounce their incantations in words unknown to the people. 


The religions festivals in Greece were very numerous, 
and some of them exceedingly magnificent. They had 
flowery processions in the spring-time, and processions with 
sheaf-offerings in the autumn. The days observed in honour 
of deities and heroes were innumerable. It was a law that 
during any of their great religious festivals no person 
should be insulted or slandered. The most solemn of them 
all were the Mysteries of Isis, introduced from Egypt, and 
called by Greeks the Eleusinian Mysteries, sacred to Ceres. 
The men and women initiated into these Mysteries were 
thought to be peculiarly under the care of the gods in this 
life, and secure of the best places in Elysium. Not to ob- 
serve them, was a reproach to any public man. The ene- 
mies of Socrates brought it as a heavy charge against him. 
No foreigner was admitted, and if any uninitiated person 
happened to be present by mistake, he was put to death. 
If a member divulged any portion of the secrets, he was 
condemned to die ; and it was deemed unsafe to remain 
under the same roof with him, for fear of some divine 
judgment. The poet iEschylus was in great danger of 
losing his life, because he was suspected of having alluded 
to the Mysteries in one of his dramas. No person who 
had accidentally killed another, or been guilty of any crime, 
or convicted of witchcraft, was allowed to enter. To some 
of the interior mysteries, none but priests were ever ad- 
mitted. The High Priest who officiated on these occasions, 
was vowed to celibacy, and required to devote himself en- 
tirely to divine things. This festival was observed every 
five years, and continued nine days. On the last day, the 
candidates for initiation having gone through a probation 
of fasting, purification, sacrifices, and prayers, were ad- 
mitted for the first time to the Mysteries. What these were 
is unknown, but some of the external circumstances are 
recorded. At eventide the priests led them to a vast edi- 
fice called the Mystical Temple. At the entrance, they 
washed their hands in consecrated water, being admonished 
to present themselves with pure minds, without which ex- 
ternal cleanness would be of no avail. With a loud voice, 


the priests warned all the profane to retire, and the wor- 
shippers remained alone. Thunders rolled around them, 
lightning flashed across the thick darkness, and revealed 
startling apparitions as it passed. At last, the inner 
doors were opened. The interior of the temple burst upon 
them in a blaze of light, and strains of ravishing music 
floated through the air. The statue of Ceres stood in the 
midst, splendidly adorned. On her head were the horns 
of the lunar crescent, and her robe was covered with shin- 
ing stars. In one hand she held a basket of grain, in the 
other, the Egyptian musical instrument called a sistrum. 
One foot rested on the ocean, the other was stepping on the 
earth. At the foot of this statue, priests crowned the no- 
vitiates with garlands of sacred myrtle. Then followed a 
series of stately pageants, which it is supposed were in- 
tended to represent the creation of the world, the progress 
of society out of barbarism, the passage of the soul through 
death, frightful pictures of tortures in Tartarus, and en- 
chanting visions of the Elysian Fields. Whatever might 
have been the purport of these things, the writings of the 
ancients indicate that they made a profound and solemn 
impression on those who witnessed them. The garments 
worn at initiation were deemed very sacred. They were 
never laid aside till much worn, and then they were pre- 
served as swaddling clothes for their children, or consecrated 
to Ceres. The Unity of God, the immortal progress and 
destiny of the soul, and other secret doctrines, were taught 
in the sanctuary, to an initiated few; but elsewhere, they 
were veiled in symbols. Nearly all the religious hymns 
and odes used on this and similar occasions are entirely 
lost. The sublimity of their character may be inferred 
from the following prose translation of a Hymn to Jupiter, 
written by Cleanthes, a stoic philosopher, who died two 
hundred and forty years before the birth of Christ : 

" Hail, Great King, and Father of the Gods ! Thou, 
who hast many names, but who art One, sole, omnipotent 
Virtue! Jupiter, Author of Nature, who governest all 
things by thy wisdom ! allow mortals to call upon thee ; 


for all things that exist are thy offspring, images of thy 
being, echoes of thy eternal voice. I will sing to thee r and 
exalt thy power without end. The whole universe moves 
by thy influence. The infinite variety of souls that in- 
habit earth, sea, and the ethereal spheres, are subject to 
thy wise control. The lightnings are thy ministers. They 
flash from thy powerful hand, and all nature trembles. 
Thus thunder-armed, thou guidest creation by an unerring 
law, and through the present admixture of evil thou 
guidest all to good. Thou curbest all excess, and wilt 
cause all confusion to result in universal and eternal order. 
Unhappy are mortals ignorant of thy law, which, if they 
obeyed, would lead them into a virtuous and happy life. 
In blind frenzy they stray from the chief good, tempted 
by thirst of glory, or shameless avarice, or voluptuous 
pleasures. But oh, great Jupiter, giver of all good, who 
dwellest with lightnings in the clouds of heaven, save 
mankind from these dreadful errors I Eemove all shadows 
from our minds, and enable us to understand thy pure 
and righteous laws. Thus honoured with a knowledge of 
thee, we shall be fitted to return the gift in praises of thy 
mighty works; and neither mortal nor immortal beings 
can be more blest than in singing thy immutable, universal 
law with everlasting hymns." 

The Greeks had four national games, intended to excite 
to honourable ambition, and preserve manliness of char- 
acter in the citizens. The most solemn and magnificent of 
these were the Olympian, dedicated to Jupiter. Prizes 
were given for wrestling, leaping, chariot-racing, music, 
poetry, eloquence, painting, and sculpture ; thus consecrat- 
ing to the gods all strength of body and cultivation of 
mind. The prize was simply a crown of olive leaves, but 
he who obtained it was carried home in a triumphal chariot 
in the midst of acclamations, was honoured with a high 
place on all great occasions, and ever after maintained at the 
public expense. They were celebrated every fourth year, 
and continued five days. No women except priestesses of 
Ceres were allowed to be present. All hostilities ceased 


during these games, and states at deadly war with each 
other met in friendship. By general consent of all Greece, 
no war or violence was ever allowed to enter the sacred 
territory of Elis, where this festival was observed. Pau- 
sanias says : " Many things may a man see and hear in 
Greece worthy of admiration; but above them all, the do- 
ings at Eleusis and the sights of Olympia have somewhat 
in them of a soul divine." 

The Panathensea was a festival dedicated to Minerva, in 
which the citizens of Athens of all classes and ages were 
represented. It was observed once in five years, and lasted 
several days, during which they had a race through the 
streets with torches, a mimic sea-fight, performances on 
musical instruments, circular choruses of many hundred 
voices, dramatic representations, and dances by young 
boys in armour. The sacred garment of Minerva, em- 
broidered with gold by two young virgins appointed to that 
service, was carried in procession through the streets of 
Athens to her magnificent temple called the Parthenon. 
There were troops of young girls wreathed with flowers, 
carrying baskets and vases; the most vigorous old men 
carrying olive branches, animals for sacrifice covered with 
garlands, middle-aged men with shields and spears, young 
men crowned with millet, singing hymns, foreigners and 
their families bearing little boats, and bands of young 
children in festal robes. This occasion was considered so 
holy that all prisoners were released, and men distin- 
guished for bravery or wisdom received a crown of gold. 

At Rome, games in honour of the Great Gods were an- 
nually performed in the Circus. The festival, which lasted 
ten days, began with a magnificent procession. The statues 
of the Great Gods were carried through the principal streets 
to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Mount. The 
splendid chariots in which they were conveyed were drawn 
by superb horses, camels, elephants, stags, and sometimes 
by lions and tigers. The chief magistrate led the van, and 
before him was carried the winged Goddess of the Fortune 
of Rome. There was an immense concourse of nobles on 


horseback, boys leading horses for the races, musicians 
playing on a variety of instruments, women and youths 
winding through the mazes of a dance, and people dressed 
as Nymphs, Fauns, Satyrs, and Sileni, carrying large gar- 
lands of flowers. The procession closed with the High 
Priest, the Augurs carrying the Sibylline Books, a long 
train of subordinate priests, and the Vestal Virgins. After 
sacrifices to the gods were performed in the Circus, music 
struck up, and the games commenced. The expense at- 
tending these exhibitions was immense. At one of these 
festivals, it is said that five hundred lions and eighteen 
elephants were slain in five days, in the combats of wild 

The Dionysia, or Bacchanalia, in honour of Bacchus, were 
celebrated when the vines began to bud. Magistrates and 
chief priests presided. In the daytime they had feasts, 
music, and dramatic representations. In the evening, pro- 
cessions of men and women went about dancing, shouting, 
feigning intoxication, and making all manner of antic mo- 
tions. They were masked, crowned with ivy or grape 
leaves, and dressed in fawn skins, to imitate Pan, Silenus, 
the Satyrs, and other attendants on Bacchus. They made 
a great noise with drums, pipes, and rattles. They carried 
drinking cups, and spears twined with ivy, and poles ter- 
minating in a pine cone, or surmounted by the emblem of 
generation, to signify the fructifying power of the sun 
upon the earth in spring time. From the worship of Osi- 
ris, in Egypt, this emblem was transferred to Greece, where 
it was called the phallus ; thence to Borne, under the name 
of the lingam. It was sometimes made of gold, twined 
with garlands, and surmounted by a golden star. The 
thyrsus, or pine cone of Bacchus, often terminated in the 
Egyptian Cross, which has already been explained to have 
a similar signification. 

Bomans observed a festival called Saturnalia, to com- 
memorate the primeval equality of mankind in the Golden 
Age of Saturn. It continued five days, during which 
masters waited upon their servants. Slaves were richly 


dressed, and assumed the cap usually worn only by free- 
men ; a custom in which the modern Liberty Cap origi- 
nated. All labour was suspended, many prisoners were lib- 
erated, people interchanged presents with each other, and 
indulged in all manner of jests with their superiors, with- 
out fear of giving offence. The temple of Saturn was bril- 
liantly illuminated, and festivities abounded everywhere. 

At the festival of Cybele, Mother of the Gods, a whole 
day was spent in blowing trumpets. Her image, seated in a 
chariot drawn by lions, or oxen, was carried in procession, 
accompanied by the clash of cymbals, and the thundering 
sound of numerous drums. Like Isis, she was the Goddess 
of Fruitful Nature, who, under one name or another, was 
adored in almost every country. Her worship was intro- 
duced from Asia Minor, and was characterized by several 
savage and gloomy customs, inharmonious with the smil- 
ing and graceful character of Greece ; but it had a place, 
because it met the wants of stern, fanatical temperaments. 
Her priests, called Corybantes, deprived themselves of man- 
hood. They excited themselves into strange frenzies, by 
wild and clamorous music, and their utterance, while under 
this inspiration, was deemed prophetic. In some parts of 
Greece, bands of mendicant devotees were continually wan- 
dering about, wearing images of Cybele on their breasts, 
and making a great noise with cymbals, to extort alms. 
There were generally soothsayers among them, who gained 
money from the people by predicting their fortunes. 

The festivals of Apollo and Diana were celebrated with 
great pomp at the sacred island of Delos. It was unlaw- 
ful to put any criminal to death during the preparation and 
celebration of these ceremonies. When the splendid pro- 
cession returned through the streets of Athens, people ran 
to their doors and made profound obeisance as it passed. 

On the twenty -fifth of December, a festival in honour of 
Bacchus was held to commemorate the return of the sun from 
the winter solstice, to revivify the vineyards and give flavour 
to the wines. In later times, when many Persian ceremo- 
nies were introduced into Kome, the same day was held 
Vol. I.— 27 o 


as a festival in honour of Mithras, their Spirit of the Sun. 

Of all the Grecian states, Sparta alone had a law that 
men should serve the gods with as little expense as pos- 
sible. Being asked the reason of this, Lycurgus answered : 
"Lest at any time the service of the gods should be inter- 
mitted ;" for he feared, if religion were as expensive as in 
other parts of Greece, it might happen that out of poverty 
of some, and covetousness of others, worship would be 
neglected ; and he conceived sincere devotion to be more 
pleasing to the deities than costly sacrifices. The Athe- 
nians being several times defeated by the Spartans, sent to 
the temple of Jupiter Ammon, to inquire why they, who 
served the gods with more pomp and splendour than all 
the other Grecians, were conquered by Spartans, who were 
so mean in their worship. The oracle merely replied, that 
the simple, sincere service of Spartans was more acceptable 
to divine powers than the costly offerings of other people. 

Two species of divination were employed by the Greeks. 
The first was supposed to be a direct inspiration of the 
gods, without any human effort ; the second was by the 
performance of certain mysterious rites, the rules of which 
were believed to have been made known by the gods to holy 
men in ancient times. Prophecy by direct inspiration was 
of three kinds. First, through people believed to be possessed 
by Spirits, that spoke out of their breast or belly, they 
themselves remaining motionless and speechless all the 
while ; second, by those who were seized with a sudden and 
inexplicable frenzy ; these were called enthusiasts ; third, 
by those who fell into stupors and trances, and spoke of 
strange things they saw and heard. The speech of all these 
classes was deemed oracular. Music was often resorted to 
to excite prophetic frenzy. Cicero says : " They whose 
minds, scorning the limitations of the body, fly and rush 
abroad when inflamed and incited by some ardour, behold 
things which they predict. Such minds which inhere not in 
their bodies, are inflamed by various causes. Some are in- 
cited by a certain modulation of voices and Phrygian songs." 

Of oracles from those in trances, Epimenides of Crete 


is an example. It is said, that being sent by his father to 
tend sheep, he entered into a cave, where he fell asleep and 
slept for fifty years. After that, he had the power of send- 
ing his sonl out of his body, and recalling it at pleasure. 
During such seasons, he appeared perfectly senseless and 
entranced. The gods held familiar intercourse with him, 
and endowed him with powers of prophecy. A terrible 
plague desolated Athens, and people believed the city was 
infested by Evil Spirits. Having heard the fame of Epi- 
menides, they sent a vessel to bring him to their shores, 
though Solon strongly disapproved thereof. It is not re- 
corded what medical remedies he advised on his arrival, 
but he performed many religious ceremonies to cleanse the 
city. He scattered a flock of black sheep and white sheep, 
and wherever the white ones lay down he ordered the 
Athenians to erect an altar and sacrifice to some celestial 
god ; wherever the black ones rested, similar honours were 
paid to the subterranean deities. The altars " to unknown 
gods" are said to have originated in this circumstance. 
The plague ceased soon after, and it was attributed to his 

It is likewise said of Hermotimus, a famous prophet of 
Clazomense, that his soul often separated itself from his 
body, wandered in every part of the world to explain futu- 
rity, and after a time returned again. On one of these oc- 
casions, his wife burned the insensible body according to 
the custom at Greek funerals, probably supposing him to 
be really dead. He received divine honours in a temple 
which no woman was permitted to enter. 

It is not recorded whether Cassandra, princess of Troy, 
was subject to trances, or any peculiar affection of the 
nerves ; but it is stated that her countrymen considered 
her insane, and disregarded her predictions, which, never- 
theless, came true. Tradition says, that when a child, she 
and her little brother played in the vestibule of Apollo's 
temple, and staying too late to be conveyed home, were 
put to sleep in the temple on a couch of laurel leaves. In 
the morning, their nurses found them unharmed, though 


two serpents were licking their ears. From that time hence- 
forth their hearing was so acute that they could distinguish 
the voices of the gods. Another tradition was, that Apollo 
was enamoured of Cassandra, and imparted to her the 
gift of prophecy ; but when she refused his solicitations, 
he added that her words should never be believed. In all 
this we can only discover that Grecians believed Apollo, 
serpents, and laurel, to be in some way connected with 
prophetic inspiration. She continually foretold the destruc- 
tion of Troy, and warned her countrymen against the 
stratagem of the wooden horse, by which the city was 
taken. She truly foretold the manner of her own death, 
and that of the Grecian conqueror, who carried her away 
captive. CEnone, the first wife of Paris, is said to have 
possessed the gift of prophecy, and to have been able to 
perceive the medicinal qualities of plants. But we have 
no information by which we can conjecture the state of her 
health or the condition of her nerves. 

Almost as little is known of the Eoman Sibyls, a name 
bestowed on women supposed to be inspired by the gods. 
It was believed that Apollo threw them into a kind of 
ecstasy, in which they could foresee the future. Some 
philosophers attributed their prophetic power to disease, or 
a melancholy state of mind. The most famous of them 
was the Cumaean Sibyl, said to have written the collection 
of verses known under the name of Sibylline Books. An 
unknown old woman offered nine of these books to Tar- 
quin, who refused to buy them, on account of the great 
price. She burned three, and returned to offer six for the 
same money. Being again refused, she burned three more, 
and came back to offer the remainder on the same terms 
she had originally proposed for the whole. The king being 
struck by her mysterious conduct, sent to consult the 
augurs. When they had examined into the matter, they 
told him that what he had despised was a divine gift. The 
books were accordingly bought at the price demanded, and 
laid up in a stone chest in the temple of Jupiter. By de- 
grees, twelve more volumes were added, and two men were 


appointed to take charge of them. These books were con- 
sulted with much formality on all important political occa- 
sions. Among other prophecies, they declared that the 
golden age was the spring of the world, the silver age its 
summer, the brazen age its autumn, the iron age its winter. 
Then came Deucalion's Deluge, and all things were de- 
stroyed. These completed the Great Astronomical Year, 
when the same process was renewed, to terminate again in 
the same way. When the temple of Jupiter was burned, 
and the books with it, delegates were sent to collect such 
Sibylline verses as could be found scattered through the 
country. After the priests had rejected those deemed spu- 
rious, about one thousand were retained and placed in the 
new temple, preserved in chests of gold under the pedestal 
of Apollo's statue. So many predictions were set afloat by 
private collections of these verses, some of them not un- 
likely to be troublesome to the state, that laws were re- 
peatedly passed for the destruction of all except the genu- 
ine books in the temple. These were again destroyed by 
the great fire in Nero's reign; but as late as two hundred 
and seventy years after Christ, some Eoman senators were 
in favour of consulting Sibylline verses concerning a pro- 
posed war. 

Of prophecy uttered in sudden frenzy, the most cele- 
brated was the oracle at Delphi. There was a deep cavern 
at this place," and some goats, that put their heads into the 
aperture, were observed to leap wildly and make strange 
noises. When the herdsman peeped in, to discover the 
cause, he too began to jump about and rave like a mad- 
man. The report of this spread rapidly, and many came 
to examine the miraculous grotto. All who inhaled its 
atmosphere talked incoherently for a time, and ancient 
reverence for all unpremeditated speech caused their excla- 
mations to be taken for prophecies. This led to so much 
confusion that a law was passed forbidding people to ap- 
proach the cavern. A seat, called a tripod, was placed at 
the entrance, and a woman, chosen by the priests, was 
placed there during one month in the spring of the year, 
Vol. I.— 27* 


to receive the inspiration of the god, and answer those who 
came to consult the oracle. This cavern was in a semi- 
circular declivity, on the south side of Mount Parnassus. 
The Greeks believed it to be the centre of the world. 
Here was built a temple to Apollo, which became one of 
the most splendid monuments of man's reverence for the 
supernatural. It contained a statue of the god in pure 
gold. From all surrounding states and nations people 
flocked thither to consult the oracle. Lawgivers came to 
ask what would be beneficial for their people; kings sent 
ambassadors to inquire what would be the result of pro- 
jected wars ; and wealthy individuals sought for guidance 
in every important transaction of life. As it was cus- 
tomary for all these applicants to make rich presents, 
Delphi was adorned with an inconceivable number of 
costly treasures and beautiful works of art. "When Nero, 
in his wars, plundered the temple, he carried away five 
hundred brazen statues of gods and heroes. The priestess 
was called Pythia. She was required to dress very simply, 
and be strictly temperate and pure in her life. At first it 
was customary to choose young maidens, but the sacredness 
of their office proved an insufficient protection against the 
passions of some who came to consult them, and a law was 
passed that no woman under fifty years old should be ap- 
pointed. On the east side of the temple flowed a clear, 
sweet stream from Parnassus, called the fountain of Cas- 
talia, believed to impart inspiration to all who drank of its 
waters. Before the Pythia approached the tripod, she 
bathed her whole body, especially her hair, in this sacred 
spring. She shook a laurel tree that grew near it, crowned 
herself with a garland from it, and ate some of the leaves. 
As soon as she inhaled the vapour from the cavern, her 
countenance became pale, her eyes sparkled, and all her 
limbs trembled. While the priest held her over it, she 
foamed at the mouth, shrieked, howled, and uttered frantic 
exclamations. These were supposed to be the voice of the 
god speaking through her, and priests were appointed to 
write them down. On on,e occasion her paroxysms were 


go frightful that they all ran away, and she died, after lin- 
gering a few days in great distress. Sometimes the symp- 
toms were more mild, and her words more coherent. For 
a long time oracles were uttered in poetry, but it being 
observed that the. god of poetry made the worst possible 
verses, they were afterward delivered in prose. It was 
believed that Jupiter, who held the books of The Fates, 
and revealed more or less of them as he pleased, had 
peculiarly intrusted Apollo with the department of pro- 
phecy ; therefore his oracles were numerous, and in higher 
reputation than others. The one in the temple at Delos 
was remarkable for the clearness and directness of its 
answers. That at Delphi was the most celebrated, and the 
most ancient, being founded more than twelve hundred 
years before the Christian era. Its predictions were con- 
sidered so infallible, that it became a proverb to say: 
44 It is as true as responses from the tripod." By what 
rules the priests were guided in choosing a Pythia, we are 
not informed. They probably selected nervous and im- 
pressible subjects. That some were better adapted to the 
office than others, is shown by the concurrent testimony 
that this oracle sometimes lost its prophetic power, and 
after a time regained it. Plato represents Socrates as 
saying: "The prophetess at Delphi, and the priestess in 
Dodona, have, when insane, produced many advantages, 
both public and private, to the Greeks; but when they 
have been in a prudent state, they have been the cause of 
very trifling benefits, or indeed of none at all." 

The most ancient of all the numerous oracles in Greece 
was that of Dodona, where oaks were said to utter prophe- 
cies ; a rumor probably caused by the voices of persons 
secreted in the trees. Being a high point of land, Deuca- 
lion here saved himself from the general deluge, stated to 
have occurred one thousand five hundred and forty-eight 
years before Christ. In token of gratitude he there erected 
a building to Jupiter, said to have been the first temple in 
Greece. The oracles were delivered by a priestess, whom 


Herodotus supposes to have been carried away from a 
temple in Egypt. 

Oracles were generally given in very confused and unin- 
telligible language. They often remained unsolved until 
a long time after, when some event occurred, which was 
ingeniously explained to have fulfilled them. Sometimes 
they were so worded that they could be understood one 
way as well as another. Thus when Pyrrhus inquired 
whether he should be victorious, the reply was : "I declare, 
son of ^Eacus, you the Komans shall conquer." He thought 
it a favourable omen ; but the Eomans conquered him, and 
yet the event did not contradict the prediction. Of the 
true and clear responses, the most remarkable on record 
are the following. Croesus, wishing to ascertain which 
oracle was most deserving of confidence, sent messengers 
into seven different states, with orders that on the same 
day of the month they should each ask the chief oracle of 
the place what Croesus was then doing, and send him word 
what answers they received. In order to be employed in 
a manner least likely to be conjectured, he cut in pieces a 
tortoise and a lamb, and boiled them together in a covered 
vessel of brass. The answers were all unsatisfactory, 
except the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. The Pythia re- 
plied : 

" I count the sand, I measure out the sea ; 
The silent and the dumb are heard by me. 
E'en now the odours to my sense that rise, 
A tortoise boiling with a lamb supplies, 
"Where brass below and brass above it lies." 

An oracle at Butis told Cambyses he would die in Ec- 
batana. Supposing it to mean a great city of that name in 
Media, he carefully avoided the place. Some years after, 
when he was suffering from a wound, he dismounted from 
his horse to rest in a village of Assyria. Feeling that 
he must die there, he inquired the name of the place, 
and they told him it was Ecbatana. The prophecy was 

Priests took advantage of the general faith in oracles, 


and allowed no one to consult them without expensive sac- 
rifices and rich presents. In some places, applicants slept 
in the temple, and priests interpreted what the gods said to 
them in dreams. On such occasions, they used a pillow of 
laurel leaves; for .that was universally called "the pro- 
phetic plant." Prophets always carried a staff of laurel 
wood. Sometimes Sibylline verses were written on scraps 
of paper, shaken in a vessel, and taken out by lot. Some- 
times they opened the poems of Hesiod, or Homer, and 
accepted as a prediction the first verse they glanced at. 
They had innumerable omens. "When a person sneezed, 
it was customary to say : " The gods bless you !" A sneeze 
on the left hand was unlucky, A sneeze on Xenophon's 
right hand, while he was making a speech, was thought a 
sufficient reason why he should command the army. Cer- 
tain days were considered so unlucky, that Augustus Caesar 
would never go out when they occurred, or consent to be- 
gin any important undertaking. Priests learned in the 
arts of divination were called Augurs. They predicted 
future events from the course of the lightning, the actions 
of birds and bees, and the appearance of the entrails in ani- 
mals offered for sacrifice. Birds, flying about everywhere, 
were supposed to have universal knowledge of the affairs 
of men ; hence their cries and manner of flight were con- 
sidered ominous. This idea rendered people cautious what 
they said before a bird ; and is, perhaps, the origin of our 
saying : " A bird of the air may carry it." One of the most 
important offices of the Augurs was to select a fortunate 
day for battle. There was always an altar for worship in 
the centre of the camp, and a coop of sacred chickens. If 
the chickens refused to eat, it was a bad omen ; if they ate 
freely, it was propitious. Once when they refused food, 
Publius Claudius ordered them to be thrown into the 
water; saying, with a sneer: "Let them drink, since they 
will not eat." But his fleet being captured soon after, he 
Lamented his rashness with many tears ; for the people con- 
sidered his impiety the cause of their calamities. When 
the army of Marcus Aurelius was perishing with thirst, the 



priests were summoned to utter conjurations and perform 
ceremonies to procure rain. A refreshing shower, which 
soon followed, was considered an answer to their prayers. 
The augurs were consulted both on public and private occa- 
sions, and their counsels had great influence in the state. 
It was very common to impute national calamities to some 
neglect of the Auspices. Other priests could be condemned 
for offences, but no augur could be removed from office, 
though convicted of the most flagrant crimes. The great- 
est generals and statesmen were proud of belonging to their 
sacred order. Pompey and Cicero were augurs ; and the 
latter confesses that the supreme object of his wishes was 
attained by the appointment. 

Numerous miracles are recorded in the annals of Greece 
and Eome. They were believed by many intelligent and 
learned persons, and were received as religious truth by 
the populace. Pausanias, the Roman historian, says that 
in the temple of JEsculapius, at Epidaurus, were many col- 
umns inscribed with the names of men and women cured 
by the god. One of the pillars was erected in commemo- 
ration of Hippolytus, who had been raised from the dead. 
Strabo says the temples were full of tablets describing 
miraculous cures. One of these tablets, found in the tem- 
ple of ^Esculapius, on the island of the Tiber, at Rome, 
gives an account of two blind men restored to sight, in view 
of a multitude of people, who with loud acclamations ac- 
knowledged the power of the god. The temples of that 
deity were always thronged with the diseased, imploring- 
assistance, and the cured presenting offerings. It was very 
common to remain lying prostrate in the temple all night, 
expecting medicines to be prescribed in dreams. It was 
believed that JSsculapius himself sometimes appeared and 
conversed with those who devoutly sought his aid. Cicero 
says : " Time wears away opinions founded on fictions, but 
confirms the dictates of nature. Whence it is, both among 
us and other nations, that sacred institutions and divine 
worship of the gods have been increased and refined, from 
time to time. This is not to be imputed to chance> or folly 


but to the frequent appearance of the gods themselves. 
Their voices have been often heard, and they have appeared 
in forms so visible, that he who doubts it must be hardened 
in stupidity or impiety." Dionysius of Halicarnassus, one 
of the most accurate historians of antiquity, says : " In the 
war with the Latins, Castor and Pollux appeared visibly 
on white horses, and fought on the side of the Eomans, who 
by their assistance gained a complete victory. As a per- 
petual memorial of it, a temple was erected, and a yearly 
festival instituted in honour of those deities. 7 ' The emperor 
Julian declared that he had familiar intercourse with divine 
beings. They woke him from slumber, by touching his 
hand or his hair, and he knew them so well, that he could 
instantly distinguish their voices and their forms. Homer 
has recorded that the horse of Achilles spoke to him, pro- 
fessed to see Apollo, and told his master that he would 
soon be killed. 

In the early rude times of Greece, they had neither statues 
nor temples, but only upright stones, or wooden blocks, with 
the name of some deity inscribed thereon. To these were 
added simple altars of turf or stone, over which small chap- 
els were first erected, and afterwards, temples. Mountains, 
groves, and grottoes, were all favourite places of worship. 
In a dark rocky ravine, overshadowed by gloomy groves 
and frowning crags, was a deep subterranean recess, called 
the cave "of Trophonius. Oracles were uttered there, 
whence worshippers always returned very pale and dejected; 
doubtless owing to the chemical properties of the atmos- 
phere. On the southern slope of Mount Hymettus is a 
grotto hung with stalactites. Engraved on a rock at the 
entrance, is an inscription in verse, announcing that Arche- 
demus, a native of Thessaly, formed this cave by counsel 
of the Nymphs. In the interior, his figure may still be 
seen rudely sculptured on the rock, in his shepherd's frock, 
with a hammer and chisel in his hand. Various inscrip- 
tions are scattered about, one of which speaks of a garden 
planted there in honour of the Nymphs. In ancient times, 
when the poetic faith of Greece was living in the souls of 


men, this place was filled with images of sylvan deities, 
and the walls covered with votive offerings, shepherds' 
pipes and reeds, basins of stone, and wooden cups carved 
with animals and flowers. Here the peasants brought ob- 
lations of their first flowers, grapes, and sheaves of grain. 
This is supposed to be the grotto where Plato, when a young 
child, was led by his parents with offerings to Pan, the 
Nymphs, and the Pastoral Apollo, to whom the place was 
consecrated. While they sacrificed, the boy slept on the 
grass, and bees left honey on his mouth, which was consid- 
ered a presage of his future eloquence. 

All high places were sacred to some deity. Mount Hel- 
icon, covered with fresh rills and flowery glades, was con- 
secrated to the Muses, whose graceful statues stood in the 
shady recesses of its many groves. There welled the sacred 
fount of Aganippe, round which they danced, and the 
clear spring of Hippocrene, in which they bathed. Con- 
secrated groves abounded everywhere, with marble statues 
of the gods gleaming among their foliage. They were sup- 
posed to be a favourite resort for Dryads, Fauns, Satyrs, 
and other sylvan deities, often seen dancing under the 
trees ; a poetic way of accounting for the flickering play 
of sunshine and shadow. Eeligious ceremonies were often 
solemnized in groves, which on such occasions were hung 
with so many garlands, bouquets, and various offerings to 
the gods, that light was almost excluded. 

The difference between Egyptian and G-recian character 
was strongly marked on their temples and statues. In- 
stead of huge piles of granite, hewn into heavy forms, and 
enveloped in subterranean gloom, temples of pure white 
marble stood in Doric majesty on the summit of Grecian 
hills, overlooking a broad expanse of waters ; or in the 
bosom of sunny valleys gracefully rose the slender columns 
of Ionian architecture. No law of limitation confined the 
Grecian artist to stiff attitudes and monotonous repose. 
Genius, left free to express itself, proved its own divinity 
in the creation of divine forms. It had no need to repre- 
sent omnipotence by the clumsy contrivance of many heads 


and arms. It put power m the statue ; made it breathe 
from the godlike countenance, and bound in graceful mo- 
tions. Of all their conceptions none was more beautiful 
than their image of Apollo, the Intellectual Spirit of the 
Sun, eagerly and gracefully springing forward, in the full 
vigour of immortal youth, leading the planets through the 
mazes of their heavenly dance to the music of his golden 
lyre. No wonder that the untutored minds of Greece, 
gazing reverently on those statues, should find it easy to 
believe that Celestial Spirits, descended from the stars, 
dwelt therein, and irradiated the divine forms with their 
own immortal life. 

The material employed was worthy of the beautiful ideal 
embodied. Greece was rich in quarries of finest marble, 
susceptible of exquisite polish. Ivory and gold were often 
intermixed, and sometimes statues were made of pure gold, 
adorned with precious gems. The images of pastoral dei- 
ties were generally cut from citron, olive, ebony, and other 
durable kinds of wood. 

It was a common opinion that some of the gods peculiarly 
delighted in mountains, others in forests, valleys, fields, or 
rivers ; and it was customary to build temples in places 
supposed to be most agreeable to the deities who were to 
inhabit them. The people considered them a blessing 
wherever they stood, and thought they owed health and 
abundant harvests to their protecting influence. In cities, 
they built temples near common houses, but elsewhere they 
sought for the loveliest and most secluded places, and gen- 
erally surrounded them with stately groves. The ground 
was previously consecrated with many prayers and cere- 
monies, and sprinkled with holy water. Temples always 
faced the east, to receive the rays of the rising sun. 
They contained an outer court for the public, and an inner 
sanctuary for the priests, called the Adytum. Near the 
entrance was a large vessel of stone or brass, filled with 
water, made holy by plunging into it a burning torch from 
the altar. All who were admitted to the sacrifices were 
sprinkled with this water, and none but the unpolluted 
Vol. I.— 28 


were allowed to pass beyond it. In the centre of the build- 
ing stood the statue of the god on a pedestal raised above 
the altar and enclosed by a railing. On festival occasions, 
the people brought laurel, olive, or ivy, to decorate the 
pillars and walls. Before they entered, they always washed 
their hands as a type of purification from sin. A story is 
told of a man who was struck dead by a thunderbolt be- 
cause he omitted this ceremony when entering a temple of 
Jupiter. Sometimes they crawled up the steps on their 
knees, and bowing their heads to the ground, kissed the 
threshold. Always when they passed one of these sacred 
edifices they kissed their right hand to it, in token of 
veneration. All classes, including foreigners and slaves, 
were free to enter, either from curiosity or devotion ; but 
it was ordained that no unclean action should be committed 
within the consecrated precincts. There was a law that no 
person should be forced away from the altars or statues, or 
be subject to any violence there; and it was believed that 
such an action would bring down certain vengeance from 
the gods. The princess Laodamia fled to Diana's altar for 
protection, during a sedition of the people, and was killed 
in the tumult. A terrible famine and civil wars followed, 
which were all attributed to this circumstance. The insti- 
tution was intended to protect abused slaves and persecuted 
debtors; but in process of time all sorts of knaves and 
criminals took refuge in the temples, and no authority 
could expel them. The evil finally became so great, that 
only one or two were allowed to be places of protection 
for offenders, and those under certain regulations. 

Each deity had consecrated plants and animals, often rep- 
resented near them in the sculptures and paintings. The 
oak and eagle were sacred to Jupiter, the owl and olive to 
Minerva, the swan and laurel to Apollo. Serpents were 
often introduced in connection with Apollo and iEsculapius; 
they were twined round the rod of Mercury, and some- 
times lay at the foot of Minerva's spear. A large serpent 
was kept in the citadel at Athens, to which they every 
month offered cakes of honey. The pomegranate, which 


Hindoo Siva carries as a symbol of his reproducing power, 
was placed in the hands of the dead on Grecian monu- 
ments, as a sign that they would live again. A butterfly 
emerging from its chrysalis is often represented on such 
monuments, as a type of "transmigration, which they called 
metempsychosis, or change of soul. 

Among the innumerable temples of Greece, the most 
beautiful was the Parthenon, meaning the Temple of the 
Virgin Goddess. It was a magnificent Doric edifice, dedi- 
cated to Minerva, the presiding deity of Athens. It was 
surrounded by three rows of stately columns of pure 
Pentelic marble, and, standing on the highest eminence in 
the city, it was seen from afar relieved against the clear 
blue sky. The eastern front was covered with figures 
sculptured in bold relief, representing Jupiter in the centre, 
and a procession of the gods following the car of Minerva 
to his throne. On either side was represented the Pana- 
thenaic pomp of Athenian citizens carrying offerings in 
solemn procession to the altar of their patron goddess. 
The figures were relieved by a groundwork of painting in 
metallic colours ; rich purple, bright azure, glowing red, 
and brilliant sea-green. Wreaths of honeysuckle and fes- 
toons of gold adorned the cornice. " This profusion of 
vivid colours threw around the fabric a joyful and festive 
beauty, harmonizing admirably with the brightness and 
transparency of the atmosphere which encircled it," All 
the ornaments, within and without, were wrought with the 
exquisite finish of a cameo. Sculptured groups of deities 
and demi-gods, the most beautiful the world has ever seen, 
abounded everywhere. In the centre of the temple stood 
the celebrated colossal statue of Minerva in full armour, 
by Phidias. It was sixty feet high, made of ivory and 
gold. The amount of six hundred thousand dollars in gold 
was taken from the public treasury for its completion. The 
offerings in this temple were of immense value. Statues 
without number, superb paintings, golden vases, golden 
shields, splendid armour taken in war, lyres of ivory inlaid 
with gold, golden wreaths of victory, golden medals and 


rings. It was sixteen years from the commencement to the 
completion of this superb structure. Every Athenian was 
eager to have some share in the glorious work. The 
women embroidered rich veils for the statues, the wealthy 
gave their gold, the artists their genius, the labourers their 
strength. Even the animals which dragged the marble 
from the quarry were honoured for the service, and a law 
was passed that the best pastures around the city should 
thenceforth be reserved for them. 

In Athens also was a magnificent temple to Jupiter, 
half a mile in circuit. It was supported by one hundred 
and twenty marble columns, richly sculptured, sixty feet 
high, and six in diameter. 

The temple of Diana at Ephesus was one of the most 
superb edifices ever dedicated to any form of worship. It 
was four hundred and twenty-five feet long and two hundred 
broad, supported by one hundred and twenty-seven marble 
columns, lofty and beautiful. The interior was ornamented 
with innumerable statues and paintings from the best 
Grecian masters, and the amount of wealth in votive offer- 
ings could hardly be calculated. All the nations of Asia 
Minor contributed to its erection, and were employed two 
hundred and twenty years in its completion. Diana was 
there worshipped as the Goddess of Fruitful Nature, as Isis 
was in Egypt. The amulets and talismans consecrated by 
the priests were in great demand. 

In the territory of Elis was a temple containing a colossal 
statue of Olympian Jupiter, by Phidias. It was sixty feet 
high, and reckoned one of the wonders of the world. It 
was formed of ivory, crowned with a golden wreath, and 
adorned with a mantle of beaten gold, which fell in ample 
folds from the waist to the feet. In his right hand was a 
statue of the Goddess of Victory, likewise made of ivory 
and gold. The left hand held a sceptre richly adorned, 
and surmounted by a golden eagle. The expression of 
the countenance was serene, benevolent, and godlike in its 

One of the most renowned edifices consecrated to this 


form of worship, was built by the Macedonian kings in 
Syria. It was called Apollo Daphnseus, because it was 
intended to commemorate Apollo's love for the beautiful 
nymph Daphne, who, it is said, was here changed into a 
tree of laurel. The capacious sanctuary was almost filled 
by a colossal statue of the god, wrought with the most 
perfect skill of Grecian art, and enriched with gold and 
gems. He was slightly bending forward, to pour a liba- 
tion on the earth, from a golden cup. The temple was 
embosomed in thick, impenetrable groves of laurel and 
cypress, which reached as far as a circumference of ten 
miles, and "suffered not the Sun to kiss their mother 
Earth." Within the enclosures were gardens filled with 
flowers, whose fragrance floated through the balmy air, 
mingled with soft strains of seducing music. Many streams 
of pure water flowed from the hills ; one of them was sup- 
posed to be derived from the same source as the Castalian 
Spring at Delphos, and to be endowed with the same pro- 
phetic power. The . emperor Adrian is said to have read 
the history of his future fortunes on a leaf dipped in these 
waters. The grounds were enlarged and beautified by 
successive emperors, and every generation added some- 
thing to the splendour of the temple. For many centuries 
it was visited by crowds of worshippers, both natives and 
foreigners. But soldiers and philosophers, who dreaded to 
lose their reputation by becoming effeminate, generally 
avoided those cool and shady groves, it being considered 
impossible for human nature to resist the voluptuous and 
seductive influences of a place so expressly consecrated to 

In Athens was a large edifice called the Pantheon, be- 
cause it contained statues of all the gods. One on the 
same model, and with the same name, was afterward built 
at Rome. That city alone was said to contain a thousand 
temples. Every part of Greece abounded with monuments 
of religious reverence. Gracefully ornamented, or severely 
simple in their grandeur, they crowned every city, gleamed 
through the foliage of every valley, and often on the 
Vol. I.— 28* 


summit of solitary hills refreshed the traveller with a 
vision of unexpected beauty. 

The spirit of freedom, conspicuous in poetry and the 
arts, manifested itself in all forms of thought. Theories 
of God and the soul escaped from the locks and keys of 
priests into the minds of philosophers, who lectured upon 
them openly, excited other minds to investigation, and led 
the way to general discussion. The world was beginning 
to pass out of the age of childhood, which receives unques- 
tioning all it is taught. It wa*entering the age of youthful, 
inquiring intellect, poetic, erratic, allured by castles in the 
air, but eager, buoyant, and free. These teachers of the 
people, not included in the priesthood, differed much in 
doctrines and character. The earliest of them taught the 
old Braminical idea that God and Nature were eternally 
one ; and that by an inherent necessity, without any ex- 
ertion of the will, material forms must at certain times be 
evolved by energy of the Divine Spirit indwelling in Na- 
ture, like the soul in the, human body. Others, like the 
Hindoo rationalists, maintained that God and Nature were 
eternally two distinct principles, differing entirely in 
essence, and forever opposed to each other. Some believed 
there was a Central Soul diffused throughout the universe, 
the original cause of all things. Others denied any Pri- 
mary Intelligence, and said Nature existed by an accidental 
collision and combination of atoms. Some said the uni- 
verse had always existed, and would forever remain as it 
was. Others believed that deluges and conflagrations de- 
stroyed the earth at long intervals, returning as regularly 
as summer and winter ; that all the forms of nature were 
renewed by energy of the indwelling Divine Soul, and so 
would be dissolved and renewed forever; that at every 
renovation the first race of men would be innocent and 
happy, and gradually degenerate more and more to the 
end. Some philosophers were absorbed in scientific studies 
and abstract metaphysical questions. Others renounced 
all science and speculative philosophy as useless and 
troublesome, and attended solely to the inculcation of 


moral habits and proper manners. Some held that pleas- 
ure was the object of existence, and wisdom valuable only 
because it taught the means of rational enjoyment. Others 
relied entirely on the sufficiency of virtue to happiness, 
preached stoical submission to irresistible fate, said pain 
was no evil, and suicide, under some circumstances, a 
noble action. Some delighted in harmonious sounds, 
graceful forms, and rich clothing, believing that cultivated 
taste and love of beauty helped to elevate the moral 
character. Others held all external advantages in con- 
tempt, practised rigid abstinence, wore coarse clothing, and 
carried a wallet to beg for daily bread. One class prided 
themselves on proving that nothing could be proved ; that 
there was no such thing as good or evil, truth or falsehood, 
but everything was a matter of opinion. 

Enlightened minds understood the numerous deities sym- 
bolically, and regarded them merely as names of various 
effects produced by One Great Cause. Employed in upper 
ether, it was Jupiter ; in the lower atmosphere, Juno ; in 
the sciences, Minerva; in the sun, Apollo; in the sea, Nep- 
tune. That which to us appears absurd in their mytholo- 
gical legends, they explained satisfactorily to themselves, 
by regarding them as allegories ; a method universally em- 
ployed by the human intellect when devoutly inclined to 
discover sacred meaning in incomprehensible traditions. 
Philosophers of all opinions conformed more or less to 
popular observances ; partly from the hold which the re- 
ligion of one's age and country generally keeps upon the 
soul, and partly from motives of personal safety ; for the 
priests, who lived by offering prayers and sacrifices for the 
people, were naturally very jealous of any teaching that 
lessened the importance of prescribed ceremonies. That 
some of the philosophers looked very sceptically upon their 
religious rites, may be readily conjectured. When Crates 
asked Stilpo whether he thought the gods took pleasure in 
the honours paid to them by mortals, he replied : " You 
fool, do not question me upon such subjects in the public 
streets, but when we are alone." The friends of Diagoras 


showed him many votive tablets suspended in the temples 
by those who had escaped dangerous storms at sea. He 
replied : "I see the offerings of those who were saved, but 
where is the record of those who were wrecked, notwith- 
standing their supplications to the deities ?" Protagoras be- 
gan a treatise with these words : " Concerning the gods, I 
am unable to arrive at any knowledge whether they exist 
or not ; for there are many impediments to our knowledge ; 
especially the shortness and uncertainty of human life." 
The^thenians considered this sentiment so impious, that 
they banished the writer, and ordered his books to be 
burned in the market-place. 

The celebrity of Egypt drew thither the inquiring minds 
of Greece, both in her ancient and modern times. In later 
ages, they came directly in contact with Oriental philoso- 
phers and devotees. Alexander the Great, in his Asiatic 
expedition, was attended by Grecian philosophers, some of 
whom he sent to hold conferences with the wise men of the 
East, particularly the Persian Magi, and the Bramins of 
India. The continual communication between India and 
Egypt by commerce, through the city of Alexandria, 
tended to spread a knowledge of the East among the Greeks. 
Their later writers mention East Indian and Ethiopian de- 
votees, whom they describe as Gymnosophists, which 
means naked philosophers. They speak of them as divided 
into two sects, Brahmans and Sarmans, both of whom 
refrained from animal food, practised great austerities, 
and sought to unite themselves with Deity by constant 
meditation and complete subjugation of the senses. One 
of them wandered as far as Athens, where he voluntarily 
burned himself to death, to purify his soul from all con- 
nection with matter. Another did the same in the pres- 
ence of Alexander's army. Being asked by the emperor 
whether he wished to say anything before he died, he re- 
plied : "I shall see you again shortly." This answer made 
a great impression, for it was generally believed that 
at the approach of death the soul could converse with 


Spirits, and was gifted with prophecy ; a belief strengthened 
by the fact that Alexander died soon after. 

The earliest of the Grecian teachers of whom we have 
any record is Orpheus. The general testimony is, that he 
was a native of Thrace, who, some twelve hundred years 
before Christ, founded a colony in Greece, and spent most 
of his life there. Being well acquainted with the religious 
tenets and ceremonies of his own country, he travelled into 
Egypt, where he obtained some knowledge of their religious 
mysteries, and became skilful in music, poetry, philosophy, 
astrology, and medicine. Thus accomplished, he returned 
to the Greeks, who were at that time in such a rude con- 
dition, that any man of moderate attainments would have 
seemed a prodigy. Accordingly, he became as famous 
among them as was Hermes among the Egyptians. It was 
said his music allured birds, tamed wild beasts, calmed 
whirlwinds, and drew rocks and trees after him. When 
his wife Eurydice died, he descended to Tartarus, charmed 
by his music the three-headed dog that guarded its gates, 
melted the heart of grim Pluto, and obtained leave to have 
his beloved wife follow him back to earth, provided he 
did not look behind him till he arrived in upper air ; but, 
in his eagerness to see Eurydice, he looked too soon, and 
she disappeared for ever. It has been suggested that this 
merely signified his great skill in medicine, whereby he 
rescued his wife from dangerous illness, and afterward lost 
her by a relapse. He brought from Egypt the doctrine 
that stars were animated by Spirits, and the world hatched 
from a mundane egg by rays of the sun. He taught that 
there was One invisible God, who contained within himself 
the germ of all things, and was alternately active and pas- 
sive. In his active state, successive grades of beings ema- 
nated from him, by virtue of an inherent necessity ; all 
partook of his divine nature in different degrees, and all 
would return to him after progressive purifications. The 
universe would be destroyed by fire, and renewed. He is 
said to have been the first who taught the Greeks that the 
soul lived after death, and would suffer or be rewarded ac- 


cording to deeds done in the body. It is recorded that he 
introduced a triform image of Deity. It was a Serpent, 
with the head of a Lion, the head of a Bull, and in the 
centre the head of a majestic Man, with golden wings upon 
its shoulders. 

The following are among the recorded maxims of Or- 
pheus : " There is One Unknown Being, prior to all beings, 
and exalted above all. He is the author of all things, even 
of the ethereal sphere, and of all things below it. He is 
Life, Counsel, and Light, which three names all signify One 
Power, the same that drew all things visible and invisible 
out of nothing. We will sing that eternal, wise, and all- 
perfect Love, which reduced the chaos into order." 

" The empyrean, the deep Tartarus, the earth, the ocean, 
the immortal gods and goddesses, all that is, all that has 
been, and all that will be, was originally contained in the 
fruitful bosom of Jupiter. He is the first and the last, the 
beginning and the end. All beings derive their origin 
from him. He is the Primeval Father, the immortal vir- 
gin, the life, the cause, the energy of all things. There is 
One only Power, One only Lord, One Universal King." 

" Souls are in this world as a punishment for sins com- 
mitted in a pre-existent state. The body is a prison, 
wherein the soul is kept till its faults are expiated." 

The next celebrated teachers were the Seven Wise Men 
of Greece ; among whom the most conspicuous was Thales, 
about six hundred years before Christ. According to the 
general custom, he went to Egypt in search of wisdom, 
and is said to have spent several years in intercourse with 
the learned priests. He seems to have carried knowledge 
with him, for he taught them how to measure the height 
of the pyramids by their shadow at noon ; a process pre- 
viously unknown to their mathematicians. After his re- 
turn, he foretold a celebrated eclipse, which happened as 
predicted. By astronomical calculations, he likewise fore- 
saw that a certain year would be uncommonly productive, 
and he bought up all the olives in the neighbourhood before 
their season. The crops proved very abundant, and he 


made large profits; but he assembled the neighbouring 
traders and voluntarily divided with them. The following 
are recorded among his sayings : 

" The most ancient of all things is God, for he is un- 

" The universe is the beautiful work of God." 

" Be careful not to do that yourself, which you would 
blame in another." 

" True happiness consists in perfect health, a moderate 
fortune, and a life free from effeminacy and ignorance." 

" In misfortune it may be some consolation to learn that 
our tormentors are as unhappy as ourselves ;" a maxim in 
which he certainly did not rise above the level of his age. 
He maintained that death does not differ from life ; that one 
is the same as the other. Being asked if a man could con- 
ceal evil actions from the gods, he replied : " How can ac- 
tions be concealed, when even our most secret thoughts are 
known to them?" 

Pittacus, another of the wise men, said : " Do not that 
to your neighbour, which you would take ill from him." 

" Speak evil of no one ; not even of your enemies." 

Bias said : " If you are handsome, do handsome things ; 
if deformed, supply the defects of nature by your virtues." 

" Whatever good you do, ascribe it to the gods." 

Pythagoras, one of the most celebrated of the ancients, 
is supposed to have been born about five hundred and 
eighty-six years before Christ. There are many stories of 
his having visited wise men of different countries, but some 
of them are positively contradicted by dates. One fact, as 
reliable as anything we can learn from ancient history, is 
that he went into Egypt, carrying an introduction from the 
king of Samos to Amasis, king of Egypt, who was a great 
patron of learned men, and particularly partial to Grecians. 
Amasis requested the priests of Heliopolis to instruct him 
in the mysteries, but their aversion to admit a foreigner 
was so strong, that they evaded the royal recommendation 
by advising him to go to the college at Memphis, because 
it was of greater antiquity. When he arrived there, the 


same pretext was used to dismiss him to Thebes. The 
Theban priests, unwilling to refuse the express wish of 
their king, and yet reluctant to grant it, ordained such 
troublesome and severe ceremonies of admission as they 
thought would discourage the importunate stranger. But 
so great was his eagerness for knowledge, that he patiently 
endured all they required, though he nearly lost his life in 
the process. He is said to have passed twenty -two years 
in Egypt, during which he became familiar with their 
most learned priests, and perfect master of their three 
styles of writing, the common, the hieroglyphic, and the 
sacerdotal. He returned to his own country at the age of 
forty, and soon after established a school of philosophy in 
that part of Italy called Magna Grecia, on account of the 
number of Grecians settled there. He is said to have been 
beautiful and majestic beyond all the men of his time. He 
used to wear a long white robe, and a flowing beard ; some 
say, a golden crown on his head. He preserved great 
gravity and dignity of demeanour, and had such command 
of himself that it is said his countenance was never seen 
to express grief, joy, or anger. He confined himself to 
frugal vegetable diet, and rejected pulse and beans. He 
was much influenced by music, and often sang hymns from 
Hesiod, Homer, and Thales, to preserve the tranquillity 
of his mind. He was opposed to the sacrifice of animals, 
and worshipped at an altar which had never been polluted 
with blood. Seeing a large draught of fishes in a net, he 
is reported to have purchased them, and put them back 
into the sea, as a lesson of humanity. Deeming it irrev- 
erent to invoke the deities by name, he advised his dis- 
ciples, when they wished to asseverate very solemnly, to 
swear by the number four ; in which, for certain mysterious 
reasons, he believed the perfection of the soul consisted. 
He was married and had sons, but taught, very strictly, 
the union of one man with one woman only. Before his 
time, it was usual to call a teacher a sage, signifying a wise 
man ; but he called himself by the new name of philoso- 
pher, a lover of wisdom, saying : " There is none wise but 


God." People of all classes flocked to hear him, and 
listened with the greatest reverence. The Crotonians urged 
him to preside over their senate, consisting of a thousand 
men. Wherever his teachings prevailed, sobriety and 
temperance displaced licentiousness and luxury. He had 
two methods of teaching, one public and the other private. 
His public teaching consisted principally of practical 
morals, such as respect to parents and magistrates, con- 
formity to the laws and customs of one's country, strict 
regard to truth, and worship of the gods by simple offer- 
ings and with purity of heart. He gave rational maxims 
concerning the union of the sexes and birth of children. 
He taught that it was a wrong done to offspring when 
parents indulged in licentiousness, or ate or drank to ex- 
cess, or partook of unwholesome food ; that it was a duty 
to avoid everything which might render children otherwise 
than healthy, vigorous, and well formed. He exerted his 
influence to suppress wars and quarrels. He used to say, 
we ought to wage war only against ignorance of the mind, 
passions of the heart, distempers of the body, sedition in 
cities, and ill will in families. He attached mystical sig- 
nificance to numbers, especially three, and three times 
three. When speaking of God and the soul, instead of 
words, he often made use of figures, which were incompre- 
hensible to all but the initiated. This was perhaps done 
to avoid alarming popular prejudices. To his private 
school only a select body of disciples were admitted, after 
careful observation of their countenances, characters and 
manners, and a strict probationary discipline. They were 
required to eat no animal food, and drink only water, 
except a very small portion of wine measured out to them 
in the evening. They must be inured to fatigue, sleep 
little, dress very simply, never return reproaches for re- 
proaches, but bear contradiction or ridicule with the utmost 
humility. An initiatory silence of two years, sometimes 
of five, was enjoined, to cure them of conceit and loquacity. 
During these years of probation, they were only permitted 
to hear his teachings through a curtain. Those who had 
Vol. I.— 29 p 


patience to pass through the ordeal were at last admitted 
to the inner school, and received a full explanation of doc- 
trines which were taught to others obscurely, under a veil 
of symbols. When admitted into his band of brethren, 
they put all their possessions into a common stock, to be 
distributed by proper officers, as occasion might require. 
They took an oath never to reveal the doctrines of their 
master beyond the limits of their own sect. If any one 
became discontented and wished to withdraw, he was dis- 
missed with twice as much as he had put into the treasury, 
a tomb was erected to his memory, and he was ever after 
considered among them as a dead man. 

Marriage was permitted, but much restrained by law. It 
was allowable to have but one wife, to whom strict fidelity 
was required ; and intercourse, except for the sake of 
offspring, was considered shameful. The Pythagorean 
brethren at Crotona, about six hundred in number, lived 
with their wives and children in a public building, where 
all the arrangements were on a perfect equality. Each day 
began with deliberation how it should be spent, and ended 
with a careful retrospect. They rose before the sun, that 
they might pay him homage; then they repeated select 
verses from Homer and other poets, and attuned their 
spirits with music, vocal and instrumental. Several hours 
were employed in study of the sciences ; then there was an 
interval of leisure, usually spent in solitary walks and 
contemplation. The hour before dinner was devoted to 
athletic exercises. After they were initiated, they drank 
no wine, and their repast consisted chiefly of bread, honey, 
and water. The remainder of the day was devoted to civil 
and domestic affairs, conversation, bathing, and religious 
ceremonies. They had the utmost veneration for their 
master's oracular wisdom, and thought it sufficient to 
silence all doubts when they replied: "He has said it." 
They committed his sayings chiefly to memory, and if they 
ventured to use writing, they kept it carefully within their 
own limits. He and his disciples mutually exhorted each 
other not to divide asunder the God that was in them, but 


be careful to preserve their union with God and one an- 
other. His delight in musical and mathematical studies 
led him to the idea that the spheres in which the planets 
move, striking upon ether as they pass, must produce 
sounds varying according to their magnitude and relative 
distance. This induced his disciples to say that he was 
the only mortal ever so favoured by the gods as to hear 
the music of the spheres. It is a singular coincidence 
that modern science expresses the intervals of music by 
precisely the same numbers that mark the distances of the 

Pythagoras taught that "there is One Universal Soul 
diffused through all things — eternal, invisible, unchange- 
able ; in essence like truth, in substance resembling light ; 
not to be represented by any image, to be comprehended 
only by the mind ; not, as some conjecture, exterior to the 
world, but in himself entire, pervading the universal 
sphere." From this Soul proceeded three successive ema- 
nations of spiritual intelligences, which he calls Gods, 
Demons, and Heroes. Men and animals were likewise 
portions of the same Soul ; the subtile ether assuming 
grosser clothing the farther it receded from its divine 
source. Therefore he refrained from killing or eating 
animals, because he considered them allied to men in their 
principle of life. Demons were Spirits, both good and 
evil, dispersed throughout the universe, causing sickness 
or health to man, and communicating knowledge of future 
events by dreams and modes of divination. Tradition 
asserts that Pythagoras himself professed to cure diseases 
by incantations, which cast out Evil Spirits. Heroes were 
denned to be " rational minds in luminous bodies;" a class 
of spirits intermediate between demons and human beings. 
Man, being allied with all things, the highest and the 
lowest, he conceived to be a microcosm, or compendium of 
the universe. He supposed him to be composed of three 
parts; a rational immortal mind, which is a portion of 
divinity, and seated in the brain ; a sensitive irrational 
spirit, the seat of the passions, residing in the heart ; and 


a mortal body, assumed as a temporary garment. At 
death, the ethereal portion of man being freed from the 
chains of matter, was conducted by Hermes to the region 
of the dead, where it remained in a state according to its 
merits, until sent back to earth to inhabit some other body, 
human or animal. When sufficiently purified by successive 
probations, it ascended to a region of pure ether, above the 
atmosphere of this earth, among the stars, which he be- 
lieved to be inhabited by Spirits. Finally, it returned to 
the Immortal Source whence it emanated. 

Tradition reports that Pythagoras professed to have 
direct intercourse with the gods, by manifest visions, and 
to remember what bodies his own soul had previously ani- 
mated. First, he was JSthalides, son of Hermes, and ob- 
tained from that god the gift of remembering all that might 
happen to him, whether in this life or after death. Then 
he was Euphorbus, and killed at the siege of Troy ; then 
the prophet Hermotimus ; then Pyrrhus, a fisherman at 
Delos ; and lastly, Pythagoras. During these transmigra- 
tions, he occasionally passed into birds, and sometimes did 
penance in the lower regions for a season. He is said to 
have seen there Hesiod chained to a brazen pillar, and 
Homer hung on a tree, surrounded by serpents, as a pun- 
ishment for degrading the character of the gods by poetic 
fictions. But Pythagoras, in common with all the wise 
men of ancient times, doubtless had many things imputed 
to him which he never said or did. The Golden Yerses, 
ascribed to him, are generally supposed to have been writ- 
ten by some of his early followers, and to contain the sum- 
mary of what he taught. The following are among his 
recorded sayings : 

" Unity is the principle of all things, and from this unitv 
went forth an infinite duality." 

" By our separation from Glod, we lost the wings which 
raised us toward celestial things, and were thus precipitated 
into this region of death, where all evils dwell. By put- 
ting away earthly affections and devoting ourselves to vir- 
tue, our wings will be renewed, and we shall rise to thai 


existence where we shall find the true good without any 
admixture of evil." 

" The soul of man being between spirits who always 
contemplate the Divine Essence, and those who are in- 
capable of contemplating it, can raise itself to the one, or 
sink itself to the other." 

" Every quality, which a man acquires, originates a good 
or a bad Spirit, which abides by him in this world, and 
after death remains with him as a companion." 

" Truth is to be sought with a mind purified from the 
passions of the body. Having overcome evil things, thou 
shalt experience the union of the immortal God with 
mortal man." 

" Man is perfected first by conversing with gods, which 
he can only do when he abstains from evil, and strives to 
resemble divine natures ; second, by doing good to others, 
which is an imitation of the gods ; third, by leaving this 
mortal body." 

" The noblest gifts of heaven to man, are to speak truth 
and do good offices. These two things resemble the works 
of God." 

" The discourse of a philosopher is vain if no passion 
of a man is healed thereby." 

" Strength of mind depends on sobriety, for this keeps 
reason unclouded by passion." 

" Youth should be habituated to obedience, for it will 
then find it easy to obey the authority of reason." 

" A man should never pray for anything for himself, 
because every one is ignorant of what is really good for 

" Honour the gods, and revere an oath." 

"Every man ought to act and speak with such integrity, 
that no one would have reason to doubt his simple affirma- 

"Do what you believe to be right, whatever people 
think of you; despise alike their censures or their 

" The rational mind of man is more excellent than his 
Vol. I.— 29* 


sensitive soul, as the sun is more excellent than the stars." 
The strong bonds that united the disciples of Pytha- 
goras, and the secresj they observed, excited jealousy ; 
and he was accused of strengthening his influence from 
motives of political ambition. He fled from one place to 
another, to avoid his enemies. It is supposed that he 
finally took refuge in the Temple of the Muses, where, un- 
known to his friends, he died of starvation at eighty years 
of age. His followers took refuge in Egypt. They are 
said to have paid him divine honours after his death. In 
token of veneration, they always swore by his name when 
they wished to affirm very solemnly. He continued to 
have many followers for several centuries. Among other 
peculiarities, they sowed no beans, would not touch them, 
or pass through a field where they grew. His doctrines 
were much adulterated, and received many additions from 
those who succeeded him. Many marvellous traditions 
have been handed down by his admirers. They say that 
he had power over Evil Spirits; that he cured diseases 
miraculously ; that he understood the language of animals ; 
that by speaking a word, he tamed a ferocious Daunian 
bear, that had committed great ravages ; and freed Italy 
from a venomous species of snake, which had long infested 
it ; that he prevented an ox from eating beans by whisper- 
ing in his ear, and caused an eagle to come down from the 
sky at his bidding ; that he was seen and heard publicly 
discoursing in Italy and Sicily on the same day ; that he 
correctly predicted storms and earthquakes, and truly fore- 
told future events ; that when he was crossing a river with 
his friends, the water called out: " Hail, Pythagoras !" 

Among the many followers of Pythagoras, was a Sicil- 
ian named Empeclocles. He inherited wealth, but devoted 
it chiefly to maintaining the rights of the people against 
tyranny, and bestowing marriage-dowries on poor girls. 
His knowledge of philosophy and the sciences gave him a 
reputation for miraculous power. He was said to have 
cured those whom no physician could save ; to have restored 
to life a woman w r ho had lain senseless thirty days ; to have 


checked by music the fury of a young man about to in- 
flict instant death on his enemy ; to have stopped epi- 
demics, and driven away noxious winds. When he went 
to the Olympic games, the eyes of all people were fixed 
upon him, as if he were a supernatural being. It was re- 
ported, that one night, after a festival, he was visibly con- 
veyed into the heavens, amid the radiance of celestial light. 
Others said he threw himself into the burning crater of 
JEtna, that the manner of his death might not be known, 
and that the volcano afterward threw out one of his brazen 
sandals. The third and most probable account is that he 
went into Greece and never returned. A statue was 
erected to his memory. 

Anaxagoras, born five hundred years before Christ, trav- 
elled in Egypt, and in various parts of Greece, in pursuit 
of knowledge. He is supposed to have been the first among 
the Greeks, who conceived of God as a Divine Mind, en- 
tirely distinct from Matter, and acting upon it, not by blind 
inherent necessity, but with conscious intelligence and de- 
sign in the formation and preservation of the universe. He 
taught that the sun was an inanimate fiery substance, and 
therefore not a proper object of worship. Eclipses were 
universally imputed to the immediate action of the gods, 
and when he attempted to explain them to the people by 
natural causes, he brought himself into great danger. On 
one occasion, he ridiculed some Athenian priests for pre- 
dicting disasters from the unusual appearance of a ram 
with one horn. To convince the populace there was no- 
thing supernatural in the affair, he opened the head of the 
animal and showed them it was so constructed as to pre- 
vent the growth of one horn. He paid the usual penalty 
for being more wise than the majority of contemporaries. 
He was accused of not believing in the gods, and was con- 
demned to die ; to which he answered very quietly : " That 
sentence was passed upon me before I was born." Pericles 
had been his pupil, and cherished great respect and affec- 
tion for the good old man ; but even his powerful influence 
scarcely availed to change the sentence of death into one 


of banishment. He died in exile at Lampsacus, at the age 
of seventy-two. When he was dying, the senate sent mes- 
sengers to inquire in what way they could most acceptably 
express their respect for his memory. He replied: "Let 
all the boys have a play-day on the anniversary of my 
death." His request was complied with, and the custom 
continued for several centuries. 

Socrates, born four hundred and sixty-nine years before 
Christ, was a common citizen of Athens, who first served 
as a soldier, and afterward earned his living by making 
images. His excellent character and earnest desire for 
improvement attracted the attention of a wealthy man, who 
enabled him to receive instruction from the best teachers, 
in various branches. Having thus received knowledge, 
he wished to use it for the benefit of the public. But 
he established no school, and had no secret doctrines for 
the initiated only. Seeing the youth of Athens were be- 
coming demoralized by luxury, and led astray by witty 
scoffers at all sacred things, he relinquished business, and 
devoted all his time to talking in the markets, workshops, 
or public walks, wherever he could get an audience to listen 
to him. With mechanics, sailors, artists, magistrates, and 
philosophers, he discoursed familiarly concerning moral 
principles, religious and social duties, or even the sciences, 
arts, or trades, in which they were engaged. 

He had a large intellectual head, but his personal ugli- 
ness was a subject of jesting both with friends and enemies, 
who were wont to compare him, in that particular, with 
Silenus and the Satyrs. A physiognomist, who was unac- 
quainted with him, declared that his countenance indicated 
a very immodest and corrupt nature. His disciples were 
much incensed at this declaration ; but Socrates cooled 
their anger, by confessing that the stranger had rightly 
judged his natural propensities, which, however, he had 
brought under the control of reason. His constitution was 
so robust, that he endured hunger and cold with indiffer- 
ence. He was very abstemious in his diet ; the same homely 
clothing served him for summer and winter ; and he always 


went barefoot, even when serving in the army amid the 
severe frosts of Thrace. He would never receive any pay 
for his instructions, and frequently refused rich presents, 
though urged to accept them. He passed his life in volun- 
tary and contented poverty, sustained by a firm conviction 
that he was sent into the world to fulfil a special religious 
mission. He bore injuries with the greatest patience ; and 
he not only treated insults with quiet indifference, but even 
felt a degree of compassion for those who were capable of 
bestowing them. His teaching was eminently moral in its 
character. He thought philosophers expended too much 
time and ingenuity in metaphysical arguments concerning 
the nature of Grod and the soul. On such high themes he 
deemed it becoming to speculate but little. Following the 
practical bias of his mind, he reasoned from external effects 
to spiritual causes. 

He said to his hearers: "Keflect that your own mind di- 
rects your body by its volitions, and you must be convinced 
that the Intelligence of the Universe disposes all things ac- 
cording to his pleasure. Can you imagine that your eye is 
capable of discerning distant objects, and that the eye of 
God cannot at the same instant see all things ? Or that 
while your mind can contemplate the affairs of distant 
countries, the Supreme Understanding cannot attend at 
once to all the affairs of the universe ? Such is the nature 
of the Divinity, that he sees all things, hears all things, is 
everywhere present, and constantly superintends all things. 
He who disposes and directs the universe, the source of all 
that is fair and good, who amid successive changes pre- 
serves the course of nature unimpaired, and to whose laws 
all beings are subject, this Supreme Deit} r , though himself 
invisible, is manifestly seen in his magnificent operations. 
Learn then, from the things which are produced, to infer the 
existence of an invisible power, and to reverence the Di- 

" If thou wouldst know what is the wisdom of the gods, 
and what their love is, render thyself deserving the com- 
munication of some of those divine secrets, which may not 


be penetrated by man, and which are imparted to those 
alone who consult, adore, and obey the Deity. Then shalt 
thou understand that there is a Being, whose eye pierceth 
through all nature, and whose ear is open to every sound, 
extending through all space, pervading all time, and whose 
bounty and care can know no other bounds than those 
fixed by his own creation." 

" The Deity sees and hears all things, is everywhere pres- 
ent, and takes care of all things. If men believed this, 
they would abstain from all base actions, even in private, 
being persuaded that nothing they did could be unknown 
to the gods." 

" There is no better way to true glory, than to endeavour 
to he good, rather than seem so." 

He inferred the immortality of the soul, from the fact 
that it gives life to the body ; from the phenomena of dream- 
ing ; from the universal belief of former ages ; and from the 
eternity of the Divine Being, to whom he believed the soul 
was allied by similarity of nature, not by a participation 
of his essence. He described the sufferings of the wicked 
by representing their souls as ulcerated and horribly dis- 
eased, and subject to fearful pains, occasioned by the vices 
of their bodies. The true interpreter of the will of Deity 
he considered to be a moral sense in man, which distin- 
guishes between right and wrong. He thought it a duty 
for every one to perform religious rites according to the 
customs of his country. But he always declared that divine 
favours could not be purchased ; they must be merited ; 
and that could only be done by a blameless life, the truest 
and best manner of serving Deity. He disapproved of 
swearing by the gods, and thought the popular legends 
concerning them tended to produce irreverence. He incul- 
cated the duty of prayer, and taught his disciples this sim- 
ple form : u Father Jupiter, give us all good, whether we 
ask it or not ; and avert from us all evil, though we do not 
pray thee to do so. Bless our good actions, and reward 
them with success and happiness." Plato, who was familiar 
with his habits, represents him as saying to Phoedrus, when 


about to return home from an excursion: "Must we not 
offer up a prayer before we go ?" And thus did the devout 
man pour forth his reverential feeling in the Grecian form : 
" beloved Pan, and all ye gods whose dwelling is in this 
place, grant me to be beautiful in soul ; and may all that I 
possess of outward things be at harmony with those within. 
Teach me to think wisdom the only riches ; and give me 
only so much wealth as a good and holy mao could man- 
age and enjoy." Xenophon says: "He sacrificed on the 
public altars of the city, and often at his own house. He 
also practised divination in the most public manner." He 
himself asks : " Do I not believe, as well as others, that the 
sun and moon are gods ? Do we not believe demons to be 
gods or sons of gods ?" He often declared, with great so- 
lemnity, that the devotion of his time and talents to the 
instruction of others had been enjoined upon him " by the 
gods, by oracles, by the god, by dreams, and every other 
mode in which by divination they order things to be done." 

He made frequent allusion to " a demon," who he says 
warned him what to avoid. This divine voice had accom- 
panied him from his youth. It often forbade him to do 
things, but never prompted him to any particular ac- 
tion. Sometimes it made suggestions with regard to the 
conduct of others ; and he declared that whenever, from 
this warning, he signified the will of the gods to any of his 
friends, he "never found himself deceived. Plato represents 
him as saying, in conversation : " When I was about to 
cross the river, the usual demoniacal sign was given me ; 
and whenever this takes place, it always prohibits me from 
accomplishing what I am about to do. In the present in- 
stance, I seemed to hear a certain voice, which would not 
suffer me to depart, till I had made an expiation ; as if I 
had in some way offended a divine nature. I am therefore 
a prophet, though not a perfectly worthy one ; but just 
such a one as a man who knows his letters indifferently 
well — merely sufficient for what concerns himself." 

This " demon" of Socrates has greatly puzzled modern 
inquirers. Some have conjectured that he merely meant 


the voice of conscience, or of reason, within his own soul. 
But we know from his own testimony, and from Xeno- 
phon, that he adopted the universal belief of his age con- 
cerning Spirits, who mediated between gods and men. Both 
Greeks and ."Romans believed in the Oriental doctrine, that 
every human being, as well as every other form of being, 
had an attendant Spirit, who introduced him into life, ac- 
companied him through the whole course of it, and at death 
conducted him out of the world. The Genii of men were 
masculine, those of women were feminine. Some believed 
that each person had two ; one bright and good, to whom 
he was indebted for the favourable events of life, the other 
black and evil, the cause of his misfortunes. Some sup- 
posed the same Genius was either white or black, friend or 
enemy, according to a person's behaviour. Hence it was a 
common caution : " Be careful not to incense thy Grenius." 
" Be reconciled with thy Grenius." The more perfect the 
friendship entertained by the Genius for the person under 
his protection, the greater was his happiness and good for- 
tune. When a man died, this guardian returned to the 
Universal Source of Spirit, whence he had emanated. The 
Greeks, who always clothed abstract ideas in graceful forms, 
represented the Genius of Human Nature by statues of a 
beautiful youth, sometimes naked, with wings, sometimes 
wearing a wreath of flowers and a garment covered with 
stars. It seems very likely that " the demon" of the Athe- 
nian philosopher belonged to this class of beings. He him- 
self never personified it, but always spoke of it as " a divine 
sign," or " supernatural voice." 

Socrates was distinguished for cheerfulness, equability 
of temper, and the most inflexible integrity. He is re- 
ported to have had an extremely irritable wife, whose 
reproaches he bore with the utmost patience. He twice 
served in the councils of state, and several times in the 
army. He was so universally honoured, that the most dis- 
tinguished citizens of Athens constituted themselves his 
stewards, and sent him provisions as they thought he 
needed, in order that he might devote himself entirely to 


public instruction. He took what necessity required, and 
returned the remainder. Xenophon says of him : " He was 
so pious, that he undertook nothing without asking counsel 
of the gods ; so just, that he never did the smallest injury 
to any one, but rendered essential services to many ; so 
temperate, that he never preferred pleasure to virtue ; and 
so wise, that he was able, even in the most difficult cases, 
to judge what was expedient and right." His manner of 
discoursing in public seems to have produced a powerful 
effect on his hearers. The wealthy and dashing Alcibiades 
said of him : " No mortal speech has ever excited in my 
mind such emotions as are kindled by this magician. My 
heart leaps like an inspired Corybant. My inmost soul is 
stung by his words, as by the bite of a serpent. It is in- 
dignant at its own rude and ignoble character. I often 
weep tears of regret to think how vain and inglorious is 
the life I lead. Nor am I the only one that weeps like a 
child and despairs of himself; many others are affected in 
the same way." 

When Socrates was sixty-three years old, he was chosen 
member of the senate, and carried into political life the 
same firmness and honesty that had marked his character 
in all other relations with his fellow men. He incurred 
great unpopularity, and some personal hazard, by refusing 
to obey orders that he deemed unjust, or to put to vote an 
unconstitutional question. His diligence and directness in 
contending against all pretension and false appearances 
likewise made him many enemies among artful and con- 
ceited men. Notwithstanding his wisdom and his virtues, 
he was summoned before the tribunal of Five Hundred, to 
answer the charge of corrupting the youth of Athens, of 
despising the tutelary deities of the state, and teaching the 
worship of new divinities, not sanctioned by law. Lysias, 
one of the most celebrated orators of the age, composed an 
eloquent speech in his defence, but the philosopher de- 
clined his assistance, declaring to his judges that "the 
Divine Voice" had forbidden him to make any defence ; 
and that not only once, but twice. In an address to them, 
Vol. I.— 30 


distinguished for simplicity and earnestness, lie confessed 
that he knew nothing, but he said it had always been his 
wish to promote the welfare and happiness of his fellow 
citizens; that whatever he possessed had always been de- 
voted to their service ; that he fulfilled this duty by special 
command of the gods; he added, emphatically, "whose 
authority I regard more than I do yours." He was con- 
demned by a majority of six votes. When requested, ac- 
cording to custom, to choose what death he would die, he 
would not consent to any greater punishment than a fine, 
on the security of Plato and other friends. Instead of 
acknowledging himself guilty, or seeking to excite com- 
passion, he said : " For my efforts to teach the young men 
of Athens justice and moderation, I better deserve to be 
maintained at the public expense, than do the victors in 
the Olympic Games ; for they make their countrymen 
more happy in appearance, while I have made them so in 
reality." This coolness and dignity of deportment offended 
the judges, and they condemned him to drink poison, by a 
majority of eighty. He received the sentence with perfect 
equanimity. After a short speech, in which he commended 
his children to the care of the senate, he concluded by 
saying: "In death we either lose all consciousness, or, as 
it is said, go into some other place. If so, it will be much 
better ; for we shall then be out of the power of partial 
judges, and come before those who are impartial." 

An embassy was annually sent to the sacred island of 
Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, and no one was allowed to 
be put to death till the vessel returned, and the solemnities 
of the Delian Festival were concluded. As the condemna- 
tion of Socrates occurred at that time, he remained thirty 
days chained in prison. His friends urged him to escape, 
and one of them bribed the jailer for that purpose. But 
he declined to avail himself of the opportunity thus offered, 
saying, with his usual pleasantry: "Where can I fly, to 
avoid the irrevocable doom passed on all mortals ?" His 
friends and disciples were with him almost constantly. He 
talked calmly and cheerfully with them concerning the ex- 


istence and destiny of the soul. "When one of them wept 
that he, being so innocent, should be condemned to die, he 
replied: "What then, would you have me die guilty?" 
A few hours before his death, he said to those around 
him: "I must die, while you continue in life. The gods 
alone can tell which is to be preferred, for in my opinion 
no man can know." To one who doubted the existence 
of Deity he said: "O Aristodemus, apply yourself sin- 
cerely to worship God. He will enlighten you, and then 
all your doubts will be removed." After drinking the 
poison, he said : "It would be inexcusable in me thus to 
despise death, if I were not persuaded that it will conduct 
me into the presence of the gods, who are most righteous 
governors, and into the society of just and good men ; but 
I derive confidence from the hope that something of man 
remains after death, and that the condition of good men 
will then be much better than that of the bad." Again he 
said : " The soul, which cannot die, merits all the moral 
and intellectual improvement we can possibly give it. A 
spirit formed to live forever should be making continual 
advances in virtue and wisdom. To a well cultivated 
mind the body is merely a temporary prison. At death, 
such a soul is conducted by its invisible guardian to the 
heights of empyrean felicity, where it becomes a fellow 
commoner with the wise and good of all ages." When 
Crito asked in what manner he wished to be buried, he 
replied, with a smile: "Any way you please, provided I 
do not escape out of your hands." Then, turning to his 
other friends, he asked : " Is it not strange, after all I have 
said to convince you I am going to the society of the 
happy, that Crito still thinks this body to be Socrates? 
Let him dispose of my lifeless corpse as he pleases, but let 
him not mourn over it, as if that were Socrates." A few 
moments before he expired, he reminded Crito not to 
forget to sacrifice a cock, which he had vowed to ^Escu- 
lapius. He died in the seventieth year of his age. The 
tidings of his death occasioned such general indignation 
throughout the states of Greece, that the Athenians became 


thoroughly ashamed, and manifested their repentance by a 
decree of public mourning and the erection of a statue to 
his memory. 

Plato, born four hundred and twenty-nine years before 
Christ, was a pupil of Socrates. When his father first 
conducted him to the school, the teacher was just saying 
that he dreamed a young swan flew from the altar of Eros 
and alighted on his lap, whence he soared singing into the 
air, alluring all who heard his high sweet voice. Plato 
entered while he spoke, and he said : " Behold the swan I" 
This illustrious pupil was accused of preferring metaphy- 
sical speculations, and the mysteries of Egypt, to the plain 
practical wisdom of his master, for whom, however, he had 
great reverence. His own soul was of another mould. It 
was essentially poetic, and gave that tinge to everything it 
touched. After the death of Socrates, he went to Magna 
Grrecia and staid some time with the followers of Pytha- 
goras, of whom he is said to have purchased some of his 
recorded opinions at a high price. He afterward went to 
Egypt, where he spent thirteen years at the most cele- 
brated priestly schools. He is supposed to have been 
more than forty years old when he returned to Athens, 
and opened a school of philosophy in the beautiful grove 
of Academus, shaded by lofty plane trees, intersected by a 
gentle stream, and adorned with temples and statues. In 
the midst of his fame, he evinced as much desire to learn 
of others, as to teach. One of his friends, observing this, 
asked him how long he intended to be a scholar. He re- 
plied : " As long as I am not ashamed to grow wiser and 
better." He adopted the Egyptian fashion of concealing 
his opinions on spiritual subjects; partly, perhaps, because 
he was warned by the fate of Socrates. 

"It is a difficult thing," says he, "to apprehend the 
nature of the Creator of the universe ; and it would be 
impossible, and even impious, to expose the discovery to 
common understandings." He did not shut his gates, or 
demand an oath of secresy from his disciples, like Pytha- 
goras, but he purposely threw a veil of obscurity over his 


public instructions, and removed it only with very con- 
fidential friends. He inculcated temperance, prudence, 
justice, and self-control. His own command of temper 
was so great, that once when he had raised his hand to 
strike a servant for some offence, he stopped and kept his 
arm in that position. A friend coming in asked what he 
was doing. "I am punishing an angry man," replied he. 
But the strongest tendency of his mind was toward the 
supernatural ; and more than all philosophers he reasoned 
about the origin and destiny of the soul. He taught the 
existence of one Supreme Being, without beginning, end, 
or change. This being he called The Good, and compared 
him to the sun, " which not only makes objects visible, but 
is the cause of their generation, nutriment, and increase. 
So The Good, through superessential light, imparts being, 
and the power of being known, to everything which is the 
object of knowledge." 

He supposed God and Matter to be two eternally distinct 
principles, opposite in their nature. Matter, which he calls 
"the mother and receptacle of forms," had within it an in- 
herent perversity, a refractory force, which distorted what- 
ever of the Divine became connected with it ; thus it was 
the origin of evil. The first emanation from The Good was 
Mind ; immortal, indivisible, unchangeable, a portion of 
Deity himself. This Power being mingled with the femi- 
nine principle of Matter caused the birth of a third, which 
he calls The Soul of the World, and supposes to be the 
pervading and animating principle of the universe. This 
Platonic Trinity was purely figurative. It related to the 
attributes of the Divine Being, not to persons. It was 
merely a metaphysical way of saying that the Good Being, 
by agency of his Wisdom, produced a manifestation of his 
ideas, which was the Model World, according to which 
this visible earth was made. In the same metaphorical 
way, he often calls the world The Son of God. Sometimes 
he asserts that it was without beginning ; in other places 
he speaks of it as begotten. He doubtless means that the 
Model World of ideas was eternal, being co-existent with 
Vol. I.— 30* 


the Divine Mind ; but that the inferior world was produced 
by union with Matter. 

From the Soul of the World, God separated inferior 
souls, equal in number to the stars, and assigned to each 
its proper celestial abode. These souls, not being direct 
emanations from pure Divinity, but through the interven- 
tion of The Soul of the World, which was itself debased 
by an admixture with Matter, have in them two dominant 
springs derived from their two different origins ; the love 
of good, and the desire of pleasure. These are the wings 
of the soul, and so long as they are not separated, all is 
well ; but when the love of pleasure becomes divided from 
the love of good, then souls descend in the scale of being. 

He represents Jupiter, followed by subordinate Gods and 
Spirits, traversing the heavens and admiring the wonders 
of the universe. They ascend above the spheres, to a re- 
gion where souls contemplate that True Existence, which 
has neither colour nor form, and can be perceived only by 
the eyes of the spirit. There they see Goodness and Truth 
as they exist in Him who is Being itself. They contem- 
plate this glory till they can no longer endure its radiance ; 
then they descend to Olympus, where they refresh them- 
selves with nectar and ambrosia. Souls who faithfully fol- 
low Jupiter in this mode of life remain pure. But if they 
prefer nectar and ambrosia to the contemplation of truth 
in its Divine Essence, they become dull and heavy, lose 
their wings, and fall downward, instead of ascending. For 
such souls was this earth provided, and human bodies. 

He supposes the world to be divided into three parts, or 
zones ; the ethereal, the aerial, and the material. The ethe- 
real, in the pure regions of heaven, where are the stars, is 
the former residence of our souls, before we fell. That is 
the permanent world ; there are the real ideal types of be- 
ing, fresh from the Divine Mind. " All is beautiful, har- 
monious, transparent. Fruits of exquisite flavour grow 
spontaneously ; rivers of nectar flow ; they breathe light, 
as we breathe air, and drink water more pure than air it- 
self." " We who live in this profound abyss (the material 


world) imagine that we are in an elevated place, and we 
call the atmosphere heaven ; as if a man looking at sun 
and stars from the bottom of the ocean, and seeing them 
reflected through the water, should imagine the sea itself 
was the sky. If we had wings to rise on high, we should 
see that there is the true heaven, the true light, and the 
true earth. As in the sea all is troubled, and disfigured by 
the salts which abound there, so in this present world all 
is deformed and ruined, in comparison with that primitive 

Our perceptions of the true and the beautiful are merely 
" recollections of what the soul formerly saw, when it dwelt 
with Divinity, in a perfect state of being ; when it despised 
what we now consider realities, and was supernally ele- 
vated to the contemplation of that which is true. Unless 
the soul of man had once perceived divine realities, it could 
not have entered the human form. But few remember 
the sacred mysteries they once perceived ; and these, when 
they behold any similitude of supernal forms, are astonished, 
and, as it were, rapt above themselves. But at the same 
time, they are ignorant what this passion may be, because 
they are not endowed with sufficient perception." 

He compared souls in this world to men fettered in a 
deep cave, where the only light admitted proceeded from a 
fire burning far above and behind them. Many objects 
passed and repassed in the light, but the prisoner could 
only see shadows on the wall, caused by the reflection of 
the fire. All things in this material world he considered 
mere transitory illusive phantoms, deformed by connection 
with Matter. Souls imprisoned in mortal bodies, subject 
to debasing and distorting passions, he likened to Grlaucus, 
who, plunging into the sea, is imagined by poets as half 
transformed into a fish, his manly figure rendered shape- 
less by incrustations of sand, shells, and sea- weed. 

Of the multitude of Spirits intermediate between gods 
and men, he says : " Their office is to convey and interpret 
to the gods the prayers and oiferings of men, and bring to 
men the commands of the gods. These demons are the 


source of all prophecy, and of the art of priests in relation 
to sacrifices, consecrations, and conjurations. Deity has no 
immediate intercourse with men. All communications be- 
tween gods and mortals is carried on by means of demons ; 
both in. sleeping and waking." Elsewhere he says of them 
that "they are clothed with air, wander through heaven, 
hover over the stars, and abide on the earth. They behold 
unveiled the secrets of time to come, and regulate events 
according to their pleasure." He believed every human 
being received at birth a guardian Spirit, who accompanied 
him to the end, witnessed all his thoughts and actions, con- 
ducted his soul to the Judges of the Dead, and testified con- 
cerning his motives and actions. 

He supposed man to consist of three parts : the rational 
mind ; the soul's image ; and the body. This image is de- 
scribed as " the feminine faculty of the soul, and her vital 
energy upon the body." He taught that the rational soul 
could never die ; it only changed forms. As waking ends 
in sleep, and sleep terminates in waking, so life ends in 
death, and death in life. Souls that fell from their high 
estate, and so came to inhabit human bodies, could gradu- 
ally regain their glory, by striving to disengage themselves 
from animal passions, and to rise above external circum- 
stances to the contemplation of divine realities. But if they 
gave themselves up to sensual pleasures, they wandered long 
upon the earth, entering successive forms. " For all volup- 
tuousness ties the soul to the body, persuading her that she 
is of the same nature, and rendering her, so to speak, cor- 
poreal ; so that she cannot wing her way to a higher life, 
but, impure and heavy, plunges anew into Matter, and thus 
becomes incapable of reascending toward pure regions, and 
uniting with her essence." The soul of a depraved man 
might, in its second condition, assume the form of a woman, 
and finally even descend into that of a beast. An animal 
might become a man, if his soul had once been that of a 
man ; but a soul which had never, in some period of its 
existence, perceived divine realities, could not possibly 
enter a human form. Some souls, after they were judged, 


would be sent to a subterranean place, there to endure 
punishments they had deserved ; others would ascend to 
their kindred stars, to enjoy themselves in a manner corre- 
sponding to the life they had lived as men. At the end of 
one thousand years, all of them would return, with liberty 
to select a second life on earth agreeable to their own de- 
sire. Their choice would be influenced by the degree to 
which they had allowed themselves to become imbruted r 
and the processes of purification they had undergone. 
Those who thrice chose to devote themselves to a life in 
which they could sincerely seek wisdom and love beautiful 
realities, would fly away to their primeval abode of glory, 
at the end of three thousand years. But those who did 
not, through three successive lives, " philosophize sincerely, 
and love beautiful forms," would have to wait ten thousand 
years, before they regained their lost wings. This was 
sometimes called " The soul's orbit of necessity." 

Plato, in common with most of £he philosophic minds of 
Greece, was troubled with the stories told by Homer, and 
other popular poets, concerning the gods ; because he con- 
sidered such descriptions calculated to promote irreverence 
toward divine natures. But he strove to reconcile the 
faith of his childhood with the requirements of his spiritual 
growth, by allegorical interpretations, which transformed 
them from imaginative legends into significant myths. 
He discountenanced, as dangerous, any attempts to change 
established modes of worship. Those who despised oaths, 
omitted sacrifices, and neglected the gods, he thought 
ought to be put to death if they were deliberate and rational. 
If they did it in a kind of madness, he thought they ought 
to be imprisoned not less than five years, and the citizens 
not allowed to communicate with them. He believed that 
men had gradually degenerated from a primeval state of 
innocence and equality, and that the world would be alter- 
nately destroyed and renewed, after the lapse of vast as- 
tronomical cycles. He favoured the popular idea that 
spirits of the dead often hovered round the ashes of their 


old bodies, waiting until the new forms were ready for 
their reception. 

Like all other poets and philosophers, he looked back 
upon a Golden Past, and hoped for a Golden Future. He 
thus describes the reign of Saturn : " God was then the 
Prince and common Father of all. He then governed the 
world by himself ; whereas he now governs it by the agency 
of inferior deities. In those happy days, the fertile fields 
yielded fruit and corn without tillage. Men had no need 
of clothing, for there was no inclemency in the seasons. 
They took their rest on beds of moss perpetually verdant. 
Cruelty and anger, war and sedition, were unknown. 
There were no magistrates or civil policy, as now. All 
men were governed by reason and the love of order." 

After that, Saturn was hurled from his throne, and "hid 
himself in an inaccessible retreat. The foundations of the 
world were shaken by motions contrary to its first prin- 
ciples, and its beauty and order were lost. Then were 
good and evil blended together." 

" In the end, lest the world should be plunged into an 
eternal abyss of confusion, the Author of Primitive Order 
will appear again, and resume the reins of empire. He will 
change, amend, embellish, and restore the whole frame of 
nature, and put an end to decay, disease, and death." 

The following sayings may be found scattered through 
the writings of Plato : 

" The soul, withdrawn from the influence of the Muses 
and Graces, sinks into disorder, loses its moral harmony, 
and often requires the aid of music to attune its jarring 

" To say that the gods are easily appeased, is to compare 
them to dogs or wolves, which are pacified by giving them 
a portion of the plunder." 

" The divine race of stars must be considered as celestial 
creatures, with most beautiful bodies and happy souls. 
That they have souls, is evident from the regularity of their 

" All see the body of the sun ; but the Soul, that ani- 


mates it, is not the object of any of our senses ; it is per- 
ceived by the mind only." 

" It is impossible that there should be much happiness in 
this life ; but there is great hope, that after death every 
person may obtain the things he most wishes for. This is 
not new, but is known both to Greeks and barbarians." 

"The universe belongs to the Deity, and he will not 
neglect what is his own. He cannot be called a wise phy- 
sician who only attends to the body in general, and not to 
particular parts. Nor do governors of cities, or masters 
of families, neglect small things. Let us not then suppose 
that God, who is wisest of all, is less wise than men. He 
is the Shepherd of mankind, taking the same care of them 
that a shepherd does of his sheep and oxen. He provides 
for all things, the smallest as well as the greatest." 

" He is the Architect of the World, the Father of the 
Universe, the Creator of Nature, the Sovereign Beauty, 
and the Supreme Good, the Euling Mind, which orders 
all things, and penetrates all things." 

■ ' He made the heavens, the earth, and the gods. He is 
the original life and force of all things in the ethereal re- 
gions, upon the earth and under the earth." 

" He is the Being, the Unity, the Good, pre-eminently 
the same in the world of Intelligences that the sun is in 
the visible world." 

" He is.Truth, and Light is his shadow." 

" What light and sight are in this visible world, truth 
and intelligence are in the real, unchangeable world." 

"The One, better than intellect, from whom all things 
flow, and to whom they all ultimately tend, is The Good.", 

" The end and aim of all things should be to attain to 
The First Good ; of whom the sun is but the type, and 
the material world, with all its host of ministering Spirits, 
is but the manifestation and the shadow." 

" As light and vision resemble the sun, but are not the 
sun, so knowledge and truth resemble The Good, but are 
not The Good ■ which is itself something more venerable." 

" As nothing is like the sun, except through solar influ- 


ences, so nothing can resemble The Good, but by an ema- 
nation of his divine light into the son.]." 

" To be like the Deity, is to be holy, just, and wise. This 
is the end of man's being born, and should be his aim in 
studying philosophy." 

11 He alone is truly happy who has attained to the divine 
science of the Deity. To arrive at this state, it is necessary 
to be convinced that the body is a prison, from which the 
soul must be released, before it can arrive at the knowledge 
of those things which are real and immutable." 

" The light and spirit of Deity are as wings to the soul, 
raising it into communion with himself, and above the 
earth, with which the mind of man is prone to bemire it- 

" The soul of each of us is an immortal Spirit, and goes 
to other gods to give an account of its actions." 

" Pure souls, who here below have sought to withdraw 
themselves from terrestrial stains, enter after death into an 
invisible place, unknown to us, where the pure unites itself 
to the pure, and our immortal essence is united with the 
Divine Essence." 

" The perfectly just man would be he who should love 
justice for its own sake, not for the honours and advantages 
that attend it ; who would be willing to pass for unj ust, 
while he practised the most exact justice ; who would not 
suffer himself to be moved by disgrace or distress, but would 
continue steadfast in the love of justice, not because it is 
pleasant, but because it is right." 

" Prayer is the ardent turning of the soul toward God ; 
not to ask any particular good, but good itself; the uni- 
versal, supreme good. We often mistake what is perni- 
cious and dangerous for what is useful and desirable. 
Therefore remain silent before the gods, till they remove the 
clouds from thy eyes, and enable thee to see, by their light, 
not what appears good to thyself, but what is really good." 

"Beauty ought to be loved for itself, the Source and 
Centre of all beauty, the Creator, Kuler, and Preserver of 
all things. It has no similitude on the earth, or in the 


heavens. Whatever is beautiful, is so merely by participa- 
tion of the Supreme Beauty. All other beauty may in- 
crease, decay, change, or perish; but this is the same 
through all time, and in all places. By raising our thoughts 
above all inferior beauties, we at length reach the Supreme 
Beauty, which is simple, pure, and immutable, without 
form, colour, or human qualities. It is the splendour of the 
divine image. It is the Deity himself. Love of this Su- 
preme Beauty renders a man divine. When the soul rises 
above herself, and becomes united with it, she brings forth, 
not the shadows of virtues, but the virtues themselves. She 
becomes immortal, and the friend of God. There is no one 
so bad, but love can make a god of him by virtue ; so that 
his soul becomes like unto the Supreme Beauty. 77 

" Look at the sun, and the stars, and the moon ! at the 
earth, with its changing seasons, and all its beauties ! Are 
they not in themselves a power beyond you? a power 
more grand, more permanent, more lovely, than anything 
you can create ? Is not the very essence of religion, the 
acknowledgment of such a power ? The external world 
may be but a shadow of the Deity ; a symbol of a far higher 
Power beyond it ; a veil to hide his presence ; a school to 
lead you up to him. But in itself it is divine ; therefore, 
there is a Deity, and all mankind believe it." 

" How can we, without indignation, reason against men, 
who compel us to argue, to prove the existence of Deity ? 
In infancy, when lying on the breast, they used to hear, 
from their nurses and mothers, stories told to soothe or awe 
them, and repeated, like charms, above their cradles. At 
the altar they heard these stories blended with prayers, and 
with all the pomps and ceremonials so fair to the eye of 
childhood. They saw those same parents offering up their 
sacrifices with all solemnity, and heard them earnestly and 
reverently praying for themselves and their children, and 
with vows and supplications holding communion with Deity, 
as indeed a living Spirit. When the sun and the moon 
rose and set, they witnessed all around them the kneeling 
or prostrate forms of both Greeks and barbarians ; all men, 
Vol. I.— 31 Q 


in their joys and their sorrows, clinging as it were to the 
Deity, not as an empty name, but as their all in all ; and 
never suffering the fancy to intrude that God has no exist- 
ence. If they have despised all this, and, without one justi- 
fying cause, would now compel us to reason, how can such 
men expect that with calm and gentle words, we should be 
able to teach them the existence of a Deity ?" 

" The heavens, the stars, the earth, the souls of men, the 
divine beings who teach us the religion of our fathers, all 
these are the Deity." 

Much has been said concerning Plato's ideas of Three 
in One, in the Deity. According to the general testimony 
of scholars familiar with his writings in their original lan- 
guage, allusions of that kind are exceedingly few, and very 
vague. The following are examples : 

" God gave a Mind to the soul, and a Soul to the body, 
and constituted the whole world after these, the most per- 
fect and excellent in Nature." 

"All things are about the King of all, and all things are 
for the sake of him, and he is the author of every thing 
that is fair and good. But the second are about the Sec- 
ond, and the third are about the Third." 

"We may call that which receives, the Mother; that 
from which it was derived, the Father ; and the offspring 
between them is Nature." 

11 The Divine Word established the movements of the 
celestial orbs." 

" God is the Governor of all things that are, and that are 
to come; and the Lord is the Father of the Governor." 

This dark mode of expression was, doubtless, intentional, 
and was resorted to either to veil mysteries forbidden to be 
revealed, or from fear of collision with popular and estab- 
lished opinions. 

Such is a very imperfect sketch of the elevated philo- 
sophy of Plato. Ideas derived from ancient sources became 
gloriously transfigured in the light of his poetic mind, and 
inferior natures cannot give a true reflection of them. The 
divine and indestructible nature of the soul was the central 


point in his system. Purification from the contagions of 
animal life, by the principles of divine wisdom, he regarded 
as already a beginning of the immortal life of the gods ; 
and this inward unity with celestial natures, he thought 
ought to be manifested in outward beauty. Therefore, he 
loved to be surrounded by majestic and graceful statues, to 
hear harmonious sounds, to wear clothing made of soft and 
fine materials, and to observe a becoming propriety in his 
words and actions. 

A short time before his death, he is said to have dreamed 
that he was changed into a swan. He fell gently asleep 
among his friends at a wedding banquet, a healthy old 
man, on his eighty-first birth-day. Some of the Eastern 
Magi, who happened to be at Athens, are reported to have 
thought it very significant that his mortal life should have 
exactly completed the most perfect number: nine times 
nine. Long after other Grecian sects had fallen into ob- 
livion, his doctrines kept their hold upon the minds of 
men, and they remain interwoven with much of the philo- 
sophy and theology of the present day. 

Proclus, one of his followers, several centuries after his 
death, expresses the opinion that all theology among the 
Greeks originated in the mystical doctrines of Orpheus. 
He says: " What Orpheus delivered in hidden allegories, 
Pythagoras learned when he was initiated into the Orphic 
Mysteries"; and Plato next received a perfect knowledge 
of them from Orphic and Pythagorean writings." 

All three of these men had been in Egypt to obtain in- 
struction concerning spiritual theories. All their systems 
have the same outline, and harmonize with what can be 
gathered from Egyptian monuments, and the scanty records 
that remain concerning the ancient faith of that remarkable 
people. Plato, therefore, may be taken as a sublimated 
specimen of Egyptian theology as it existed in their high- 
est and purest minds. The resemblance to Hindoo doctrines 
must strike every observing reader who compares Plato's 
theories with the extracts from the Yedas. Strabo, who 
had good opportunities to become acquainted with the 


most prominent ideas prevalent in India, notices the simi- 
larity between them and the veiled teaching of Plato. 
This adds one more to the many proofs already adduced to 
show that the religions of Hindostan and Egypt were sub- 
stantially the same. 

Aristotle, contemporary with Plato, was more prone to 
look outward for the evidence of things; being more 
logical than poetic. But he also accepted the conclusions 
at which contemplative Hindoos had arrived concerning 
God and the soul. He describes Deity as " The Eternal 
Living Being, most noble of all beings ; distinct from 
Matter, without extension, without division, without parts, 
and without succession ; who understands everything, and 
continuing himself immoveable, gives motion to all things, 
and enjoys in himself a perfect happiness, knowing and 
contemplating himself with infinite pleasure." " There 
are many inferior deities, but only One Mover. All that 
is said about the human shape of those deities is mere fie- 
tion, invented to instruct the common people, and secure 
their observance of good laws. The First Principle is 
neither fire, nor earth, nor water, nor anything that is the 
object of sense. A Spiritual Substance is the cause of the 
universe, and the source of all order, all beauty, all the 
motions, and all the forms, which we so much admire in it. 
All must be reduced to this One Primitive Substance, 
which governs in subordination to the First." " There is 
One Supreme Intelligence, who acts with order, proportion, 
and design ; the source of all that is good and just." 

" This is the genuine doctrine of the ancients, which has 
happily escaped the wreck of truth, amid the rocks of 
vulgar errors and poetic fables." 

" After death, the soul continueth in the aerial body till 
it is entirely purged from all angry and voluptuous pas- 
sion ; then doth it put off, by a second death, the aerial 
body as it did the terrestrial. Wherefore the ancients say 
there is another heavenly body always joined with the 
soul, which is immortal, luminous, and star-like." 

This " aerial body" mentioned by Aristotle, is the same 


as the " sensuous soul" described by Plato. It was this 
which seems to have been the "shade" of Hercules in the 
Elysian Fields, while his soul was on Olympus with the 
gods. The "sensuous soul" was the seat of the passions 
and sensations, The ancients supposed that this subtile 
vehicle of the " rational soul" exercised all the functions 
of sense, in every part of it j that it was "all eye, all ear, 
all taste." 

Cicero, the Koman orator, who died forty-three years 
before Christ, was so great an admirer of Plato, that he 
was accustomed to call him " a god among philosophers." 
Like his Grecian model, he conformed to the religious in- 
stitutions of the country, and sincerely believed in the 
divine origin of prophecy ; but he attacked several of the 
popular opinions of his time with so much boldness, that 
many thought his works ought to be suppressed. He be- 
lieved in One Supreme Grod, who controls the universe, as 
the human soul controls the body. He rejected the idea 
of anything vindictive in the future punishment of the 
wicked, considering it a blasphemy against Deity to sup- 
pose him capable of anger, or any other passion. He re- 
garded the numerous tutelary deities as subordinate agents 
of the Supreme Being, and ridiculed the stories told of 
them by poets. He thought all knowledge was a remi- 
niscence of experience obtained in former states of being. 
The eternal nature of the soul seemed to him fully demon- 
strated by its longing for immortality, its comprehensive 
faculties, its recollections, and its foresight. His writings 
were very extensively known, and greatly contributed to 
raise the previous standard of morality. 

He says : " ISTo man was ever truly great without divine 

" Whatever name custom hath given to the gods, we 
ought to reverence and adore them. The best, the purest, 
the most religious worship, of the gods, is to reverence them 
always with a sincere, unpolluted, and perfect mind." 

" The true primeval law is the Supreme Eeason of the 
great Jupiter. It is eternal, immutable, universal. It does 
Vol. I .— 31* 


not vary according to time and place. It is not different 
now from what it was formerly. The same law sways all 
nations, because it proceeds from the King and common 
Father of alL A crime is none the less criminal because 
there is no human law against it The law imprinted on 
the hearts of all men is to loye the members of society as 
themselves. Love of order is the sovereign justice, and 
this justice is excellent for its own sake. Whoever loves 
it for its utility, is politic, but not good. The highest in- 
justice is to love justice only for the sake of recompense. 
The eternal, unchangeable, universal law of all beings is 
to seek the good of one another, like children of the same 

Cicero informs us that philosophers of all schools agreed 
in believing the Supreme Deity incapable of inflicting pun- 
ishment, or feeling resentment ; that anger toward one, and 
favour toward another, were equally inconsistent with an 
immortal, wise, and happy nature. Therefore, they all 
agreed that fear could have no place in the mind of man 
with regard to God. 

Like Plato, he was very conservative with regard to 
established forms, regarding them as necessary for the pre- 
servation of good order. He says : " When religion is in 
question, I do not consider what is the doctrine thereon of 
Zeno, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus, but I am guided by what 
the Chief Priests say of it. From you, who are a philoso- 
pher, I am not unwilling to receive reasons for my faith ; 
but to our ancestors I trust implicitly, without receiving 
any reason at all." 

He thought those who disturbed popular belief in the 
auguries ought to be punished. For that reason he entered 
a complaint against two men who sailed contrary to the 
auspices ; because, according to his views, the established 
"religion is to be obeyed, and the customs of our fore- 
fathers are not to be discarded." 

The Stoics, founded by Zeno, about three hundred years 
before Christ, had numerous adherents, especially among 
the Romans, to whose stern and lofty character their doc- 


trines were well adapted. They explained virtue as the 
true harmony of man with himself, and with the laws of 
nature, without regard to reward or punishment. This 
state was to be attained by mastery over the passions 
and affections, and complete indifference to external things. 
Self-denial and resolute endurance were prominent points 
in their moral teaching. They were characterized by 
abstemiousness, plainness of dress, and strict regard to 
decorum. They held that a man was at liberty to lay 
down his life whenever he deemed it no longer useful. 
Zeno, and others of their teachers, committed suicide in 
old age. They believed the universe was pervaded by a 
Divine Intelligence, as by a soul. The elements and the 
heavenly orbs partook of this divine essence, and were 
therefore suitable objects of worship. They did not adopt 
the common doctrine of successive transmigrations of the 
human soul, but held that it returned to the Supreme Soul, 
after death. Epictetus says: "There is no Tartarus. You 
do not go to a place of pain. You return to the source 
from which you came, to a delightful reunion with your 
primitive elements." They were taught not to deprecate 
impending calamities, but to pray for resignation and forti- 
tude to endure them. Marcus Antoninus says: "Either 
the gods have power, or no power. If they have no power, 
why do you pray ? If they have power, why do you not 
rather pray that you may be without anxiety about an 
event, than that the event may not take place ?" 

In common with many of the Grecian sects, they believed 
in the old Hindoo, Chaldean, and Egyptian calculations 
coDcerning the destruction of the world by water and by 
fire. This universal devastation was to take place at stated 
intervals, with vast astronomical intervals between. All 
was to be restored to a state of order, innocence, and 
beauty; the old tendency to degeneracy would end in 
similar destruction, to be again renovated ; and so on alter- 
nately forever. Seneca says: "A time will come when 
the world, ripe for renovation, will be wrapped in flames ; 
when the opposite powers in conflict will mutually destroy 


each other. The constellations will dash together, and the 
whole universe, plunged in the same common fire, will be 
consumed to ashes. The world being melted and re 
entered into the bosom of Jupiter, this god will continue 
for some time concentred in himself, immersed in the 
contemplation of his own ideas. Afterward, a new world 
will spring from him, perfect in all its parts. The whole 
face of nature will be more lovely; and under more 
favourable auspices, an innocent race of men will people 
this earth, the worthy abode of virtue." 

The religious doctrines and customs of Greece were 
adopted by Rome without essential alterations. Something 
of their gracefulness was lost under the influence of her 
less poetic character, but a stronger moral element was in- 
fused. In the days of the Roman Republic, temples were 
erected to Concord, Faith, Constancy, Modesty, and even 
to Peace. Yenus Yerticordia presided over the purity of 
domestic morals, and the most virtuous woman in Rome 
was chosen to dedicate her statue. Religion was intimately 
connected with the state. The Emperor was the Supreme 
Pontiff; and High Priests were chosen among the most 
illustrious senators. The priests, both of the city and the 
provinces, were mostly men of wealth and rank, who re- 
ceived, as an honourable distinction, the care of some 
celebrated temple, or some public sacrifice, or the sacred 
games, which were frequently exhibited at their own ex- 
pense. They acted as magistrates, and claimed none of 
the peculiar sacredness which so strongly riveted the 
power of Hindoo and Egyptian priests. 

Numa, second king of Rome, forbade the people to put 
images or pictures in their temples; giving as a reason that 
God was to be apprehended only by the mind, and it was 
wrong to represent the most excellent being by such mean 
things. For one hundred and sixty years, their temples 
contained neither statues nor paintings. It was the policy 
of government to exclude foreign worship, and for a time 
they tried to enforce it rigidly. But Rome, being the cen- 
tre of power, was the point of confluence for all nations of 


the earth, and it became necessary to allow foreign resi- 
dents and visitors the practice of their own religious rites. 
This toleration was easily granted, because it was a common 
opinion among polytheistic nations that every country had 
the religion best suited to its climate and character, and 
that the deity it worshipped, whoever he might be, was one 
of many beneficent Spirits, appointed to preside over vari- 
ous divisions of the earth, and manifold departments of the 
universe. From Egypt, Carthage, Gaul, Persia, and nu- 
merous other countries, the conquering armies of Rome 
brought back foreign customs and opinions with the spoils 
of war. The popular feeling in favour of adding the gods 
of other nations to their own established worship became 
too strong for the policy of government or the wisdom of 
sages to resist. The worship of Serapis was first celebra- 
ted in private chapels at Rome, then publicly prohibited ; 
the first temples erected to him were ordered to be des- 
troyed ; afterward, it was permitted to build them within a 
mile of the city; and at last he was formally acknowledged 
and established among the deities. The Persian Mithras 
was enrolled in the same calendar. The Magi, resident in 
Eome, introduced his Mysteries, which were solemnized in 
a cave. In the process of initiation, candidates were sub- 
jected to severe ordeals, such as long fasts in solitude and 
darkness, passing through deep waters and through fire. It 
is said that one of the ceremonies of admission was to eat 
bread and drink wine, and to receive the mark of a Cross 
on the forehead ; probably the Hindoo and Egyptian Cross, 
already described. When the Jews became tributary to 
Rome, they were protected in their own forms of worship ; 
it being readily admitted that Jehovah might be a true na- 
tional deity, though not the only Governor of the Universe. 
Solemn embassies were sent to invite Cybele from Phry- 
gia, and ^Esculapius from Greece. The image of Astarte 
was brought from Carthage to Rome, to be married to the 
image of the Sun ; and the day of their mystic nuptials was 
kept as a festival throughout the empire. It was a com- 
mon custom to tempt the deities of besieged cities, by 


promising them more distinguished honours in Eome than 
they received in their own country. 

Eoman priests, as well as those of Hindostan, were ac- 
quainted with a chemical process, which enabled them to 
resist fire. Strabo says that many persons, every year, 
walked barefoot over burning coals without receiving the 
slightest injury, and crowds assembled to see it. The more 
rational citizens of Eome strongly disapproved of nocturnal 
assemblies, as occasions for revelry and licentiousness, un- 
der the disguise of religion. They discountenanced the 
impure rites practised in temples of Venus, and the mad 
orgies connected with the worship of Bacchus ; and at last 
their influence so far prevailed, that the festivals of Bac- 
chus were prohibited by law. 

Eome was the great gathering-place for all the nations 
of the earth. To the general admixture of religious forms 
and creeds was added almost unlimited freedom of inquiry 
in the philosophical schools. The ceremonies consecrated 
by long established custom were observed for reasons of 
state, and to satisfy the requisitions of the populace ; but 
they gradually degenerated into mere lifeless forms. Cicero 
argues that it was impossible the oracle at Delphi could 
have gained so much reputation in the world, and been 
enriched with such costly presents from almost all kings 
and nations, had not the veracity of its prophecies been 
confirmed by the experience of ages. But he informs us 
that it had declined very much before his day ; the Pythia 
being often accused of taking bribes of the rich and power- 

A belief in the existence of the soul after death was indi- 
cated in all periods of the history of Greece and Eome, by 
the fact that they were always accustomed to address prayers 
to the Spirits of their ancestors, when overwhelmed with 
trouble, or about to undertake any important enterprise. 
They likewise offered sacrifices for the benefit of the dead, 
and performed such games at their tombs as they most 
delighted in while living on this earth. But though they 
thus implied a belief that spirits of the departed were pres* 


ent, and took cognizance of the affairs of this world, their 
writers never urged the rewards of another life as induce- 
ments to virtue, or its punishments as furnishing motives 
to avoid crime. They inculcated a stoical resignation to 
the will of the gods, and reconciled themselves to death 
because mortals were thus released from the calamities of 
this world. 

In the latter times of Greece and Home, educated minds 
retained very little belief in the popular forms of theology. 
Philosophers had long risen above them to the contempla- 
tion of One Supreme Mind, and poets had long been accus- 
tomed to play with them as mere graceful fancies. Still the 
idea prevailed that fables were necessary for the populace. 
Strabo says : " It is impossible to govern a mob of women, 
or the whole mixed multitude, and to exhort them to piety, 
holiness, and faith, by philosophic reasoning. We must 
also employ superstition, with its fables and prodigies. 
The thunder, the aegis, the trident, the serpents, the torches, 
the thyrsi of the gods, are fables, bugbears to those who are 
children in understanding ; as is all the ancient theology." 

Cicero represents an Epicurean as saying: u It is mar- 
vellous how one of the Augurs can look another in the 
face without laughing." 

Plutarch thus describes a philosopher of the same school : 
" He hypocritically enacts prayer and adoration, from fear 
of the enemy. He utters words directly opposite to his 
philosophy. While he is sacrificing, the ministering priest 
seems to him no more than a cook ; and he departs, utter- 
ing the line of Menander: 'I have sacrificed to gods in 
whom I have no concern.' " 

Juvenal tells us that poets indulged their imagination to 
such a degree concerning future rewards and punishments, 
that even the Eoman children ceased to believe them. 

" The silent realm of disembodied ghosts, 
The frogs that croak along the Stygian coasts, 
The thousand souls in one crazed vessel steered, 
Not boys believe — save boys without a beard." 


Pliny the Younger, in the opening of his Natural His* 
tory, speaks of the immortality of the soul as an idle notion, 
a mere vision of human pride; equally absurd whether 
under the form of transmigration, or that of existence in 
another sphere. 

The custom of deifying great men was carried to such 
an extent, that it became a regular custom for the Eoman 
senate to decree divine honours to every emperor, after 
death, without reference to character. Vespasian, being 
ill, said jestingly : " I am a god, or at least not far from it." 
All the old forms were occasionally a theme for mirth or 
satire, except the Eleusinian Mysteries. Down to the 
latest period of their religion, Greek and Eoman writers 
always approached that subject with the deepest rever- 

The declining oracles continued to be occasionally con- 
sulted till the fourth century of our era, when the Eoman 
emperors became converts to Christianity. The oracles 
were soon after silenced, the order of Yestals abolished, 
the sacred fire extinguished, and most of the temples de- 

Thus passed away from the face of our earth the beau- 
tiful pageantry of a religion which for more than two 
thousand years had expressed the aspirations of the human 
soul in its search after the infinite unknown. Its solemn 
train of priests and prophets disappeared; its voice of 
prayer and music no longer descended from the mountain 
tops, or rose in swelling chorus from processions winding 
through the valleys. But such truth as there was in it 
fell into the bosom of philosophy, and brought forth flow- 
ers, which still cast their seed into the future. Even its 
allegories linger in our literature, like the illustrious shad- 
ows in their own Elysian Fields. School-boys of every 
nation are familiar with the Grecian gods ; Cupid rides on 
roses in our Valentines ; Diana holds our lamps ; the 
Italian peasant still swears by Bacchus ; and the American 
poet of yesterday invokes the Muses. 



Tet shall it claim our reverence, that to God 

These jealous ministers of law aspire, 

As to the One sole Fount, whence wisdom flowed ; 

And yon thick woods maintain that primal truth, 

Debased by many a superstitious form, 

That fills the soul with unavailing ruth- 


There was a country in Asia called Scythia, the boun- 
daries of which are extremely uncertain. Tribes migrated 
thence, and gradually spread over a large portion of Eu- 
rope. They bore a variety of names in different places ; 
but those who settled in the countries now called Germany, 
France, Spain, and Great Britain, were known by the 
general appellation of the Celtic tribes. 

The religious doctrines of the Celts were known only to 
the priests, who never allowed them to be committed to 
writing. Therefore we have only slight information con- 
cerning them, obtained from Romans who came in contact 
with those nations by conquest. Tacitus says the ancient 
Germans, called Teutones, believed in ' the existence of 
One Supreme Being, to whom all things were obedient. 
The whole universe was animated by this Divinity, por- 
tions of whom resided in all things. For this reason, they 
worshipped sun, moon, stars, earth, and water. They kept 
a sacred fire burning in their forests, and had a religious 
festival, during which they universally lighted great fires. 
Tacitus says : " They suppose Hertha, or Mother Earth, to 
interfere in the affairs of men, and visit different nations. 
In an island of the ocean stands a sacred and unviolated 
grove, in which is a consecrated chariot, covered with a 
veil, which the priest alone is permitted to touch. He 
Vol. T.— 32 


perceives when the goddess enters this secret recess ; and 
with profound veneration he attends the vehicle, which is 
drawn by yoked cows. At this season all is joy. Every 
place which the goddess deigns to visit is a scene of fes- 
tivity. No wars are undertaken ; every hostile weapon is 
laid aside. Then only are peace and repose known, then 
only are they loved. After a time the same priest recon- 
ducts the goddess to her temple, satisfied with mortal 
intercourse. The chariot and its covering, and, if we may 
believe it, the goddess herself, then undergo ablution in a 
secret lake. This office is performed by slaves, whom the 
lake instantly swallows up. Hence proceeds a mysterious 
horror, and a holy ignorance of what that can be, which 
is beheld only by those who are about to perish." 

The ancient Germans worshipped a deity called Tuisco, 
or Teut, from whom they derived their name, Teutones. 
Their traditions affirmed that Tuisco produced mankind by 
marrying Hertha, or the Earth ; which of course had an al- 
legorical meaning concerning the union of Spirit and Mat- 
ter. The image of a woman with a child in her arms was 
common in their consecrated forests, and was held pecu- 
liarly sacred. They had magnificent religious processions 
in honour of the sun, and greeted the New Moon and the 
Full Moon with torchlight processions. 

They held the river Ehine in great veneration, and threw 
rich gifts, sometimes silver and gold, into rivers and lakes, 
as an offering to the deity presiding over waters. They 
believed in a multitude of Spirits, gliding about every- 
where, and animating all things, great and small. Among 
these were the elves, some good and some evil. One of 
them delighted in producing the nightmare ; others caused 
various diseases and inconveniences. 

The Celtic priests were called Druids ; supposed to be 
derived from a word meaning an oak, because they wor- 
shipped in groves of oak. Greek and Eoman writers be- 
lieved them to have been a very ancient order, a branch of 
the Chaldean Magi, or Hindoo Bramins. It is recorded by 
several authors that they made their appearance in Europe, 


from eastern parts of the world, soon after the time of 
Abraham. Julius Caesar, who was a close observer of the 
nations he conquered, says they believed in the immortal- 
ity of the soul, and its transmigration into different bodies. 
Their austere lives, in the solitude of mighty forests, im- 
pressed even him with awe. They were a distinct heredi- 
tary caste, and elected their own chief, who retained his 
office during life. Their employments divided them into 
three classes. Bards, who chanted hymns to the gods, and 
sang the praises of heroes, to the accompaniment of the 
lyre ; another class, who decided judicial questions, and at- 
tended to the education of youth ; and a still higher order, 
who superintended religious ceremonies and magical rites. 
All things appertaining to worship were intrusted solely to 
them. They alone were exempted from taxes and military 
duty. They administered justice, and pronounced decrees 
of reward and punishment. The power of striking and 
binding criminals, and of inflicting the penalties they had 
decreed, was vested in them. No important enterprise was 
undertaken till the prophets among them had been con- 
sulted. In all cities they appointed the highest officers, 
who never ventured to do anything without their advice. 
If any one refused to submit to their ordinances, they pub- 
licly excommunicated him from all share in sacrifices and 
worship, and declared him to be henceforth one of the pro- 
fane. By this process, he was rendered incapable of hold- 
ing any honourable office, and was deprived of the benefit 
of the laws in questions of property. Such persons were 
deemed so infamous, that their most intimate friends did 
not dare to talk with them, even at a distance, for fear of 
being infected with the terrible curse that rested upon them. 
Sometimes the Druids pronounced solemn maledictions 
against a whole city or nation ; and this was dreaded as a 
great public calamity. They studied the course of the 
stars, and predicted future events from their motions. Such 
knowledge as there was of medicine was confined to them. 
They had various magical rites for casting out Evil Spirits 
and imparting mysterious power to plants and minerals. 


The oak was to them the most sacred of all trees. On oc- 
casions of solemn ceremony they always crowned them- 
selves with garlands of its leaves. The mistletoe, a para- 
sitic plant, which takes root in the trunk of oaks, they re- 
garded with peculiar veneration, and believed it to be a 
panacea for all the diseases of mankind. They always cut 
it with a golden knife. Black hellebore was another remedy 
much in use among them. None but Druids might gather 
it, and they must be sure to go barefooted, dressed in white. 
Before they plucked the sacred plant, they offered oblations 
of bread and wine, and covered the right hand with their 
robe. It was considered extremely efficacious to rub dis- 
eased people with juice of vervain. Sprinklings of it, ac- 
companied by prayers, were supposed to reconcile hearts at 
enmity, and make the melancholy cheerful. They were 
careful to gather the herb at the rising of Sirius, or of the 
sun. The Lunaria, or Moon-Plant, was gathered only when 
the moon shone on it. Hindoo Sacred Books make rever- 
ent allusions to a Moon-Plant. Indeed the general resem- 
blance between the Celtic and Hindoo religions is observ- 

The Druids had schools in the forest, where youths com- 
mitted to memory certain maxims in verse, inculcating the 
worship of the gods, bravery in battle, respect to the chas- 
tity of women, and implicit obedience to Druids, magis- 
trates, and parents. These verses sometimes contained al- 
legorical meaning, which was explained, under an oath of 
secresy, to those educated for the higher orders of the priest- 
hood. It was not allowable to commit them to writing ; 
and even if they had been written, few could have spelled 
them out ; for princes and warriors in those days did not 
know how to sign their names, and labouring people were 
almost in the condition of animals. The Druids were in 
full power in Gaul and Britain at the time of Julius Caesar's 
conquests, half a century before Christ. Our English an- 
cestors at that period lived in huts and covered themselves 
with skins of beasts. 

Women performed an important part in the Druidical 


religion. The highest order of priestesses were vowed to 
perpetual celibacy, and lived in consecrated places. A 
second order were allowed to live with their husbands on 
certain days, when their services were not wanted in re- 
ligious ceremonies ; some say it was only one day in the 
year. A third order, attendants upon the others, resided 
with their families, and reared children for the priesthood. 
Among Asiatic nations, voluptuousness is the only feeling 
excited by women ; and the female character is conse- 
quently feeble and shallow. Never allowed to think or 
act for themselves, the intellectual and high moral qualities 
of human nature slumber in complete inaction. The cus- 
toms of Celtic tribes in Europe were remarkably the re- 
verse of this. Men were themselves in a rude and barba- 
rous condition, but such as it was, women were on the same 
level. Both sexes held consultation together in councils 
of state, and fought in battle with equal bravery. Among 
the Teutones, women were the only physicians. In Asia, 
there were always ten prophets to one prophetess. But 
Celtic nations believed that women were endowed with su- 
pernatural powers in a pre-eminent degree. Tacitus says : 
" The Germans suppose some divine and prophetic quality 
resident in their women, and are careful neither to disre- 
gard their admonitions nor neglect their answers." Strabo 
relates that the Cimbri were followed to war by venerable 
gray -haired" prophetesses, barefooted, in white linen robes, 
fastened with clasps and girdles of brass. " These go with 
drawn swords through the camp, strike down the prisoners 
they meet, and drag them to a brazen kettle. The priestess 
ascends a platform above it, cuts the throat of the victim, 
and from the manner in which the blood flows into the 
vessel, she judges of future events. Others tear open the 
bodies of captives thus butchered, and from inspection of 
the entrails presage victory to their own party." 

The Druids alone had power to determine whose blood 

would be most acceptable to the gods. They generally 

sacrificed captive enemies or convicted criminals; but 

sometimes innocent natives were chosen for that purpose, 

Vol. I.— 32* 


and the dread of such a fate greatly increased the fear and 
reverence which the populace entertained toward priests 
and priestesses. In all cases where the life of a man was 
concerned, they supposed the deities could be appeased 
only by the life of a man. Thus, if one man had shed the 
blood of another, his own must be shed. If a man was 
in danger from desperate illness, or about to incur uncom- 
mon perils, they supposed the danger Was incurred by sins, 
and that they might be atoned for by the sacrifice of an- 
other man. In such cases they made vows to the gods to 
sacrifice a human victim, if their own lives were spared ; 
and such vows they were religiously bound to perform. 
Sometimes, to atone for national sins, or avert national 
calamities, they sacrificed whole hecatombs of human 
beings, as the Hindoos used to sacrifice a thousand horses 
at once, and the Greeks a hundred oxen. On such occa- 
sions, they made a huge image of basket-work, in the shape 
of a man, and filled it with men, women, and children. 
Then they surrounded it with combustibles, and they all 
perished in the flames. These victims were generally cap- 
tives and criminals, who were sometimes reserved for 
several years, till an occasion occurred to offer them all to- 
gether. The cruelty of this custom was softened to their 
own minds by a belief that victims offered to the gods 
were purified from all mortal stain by the process, and 
raised to an equality with superior natures. 

It was the universal faith that all events happened ac- 
cording to unalterable laws of destiny, known only to the 
gods, and revealed by them to certain favoured mortals. 
They fully believed that criminals could be detected by 
subjecting suspected persons to ordeals, such as walking 
on red-hot metals, or plunging the arm into boiling oil. If 
they were guiltless, people believed that Good Spirits would 
interfere for their protection, and they would escape un- 
harmed. Earthquakes, tempests, and other convulsions 
of nature, were supposed to be occasioned by the death of 
some great man. 

Their morality was rather of an external character, but 


extremely strict in its laws. Bravery was the crowning 
virtue in men, and chastity in women. A high proud 
sense of personal honour was the restraining principle in 
both. Licentiousness was much - detested, and of rare oc- 
currence. Heroes, who died righting for their country, 
were perfectly certain of passing at once into a paradise of 
eternal joy, whatever might be their character in other 
respects. This belief inspired men with wild and furious 
courage, and a reckless contempt of death. They gave 
strong proof of faith in a future existence ; for they fre- 
quently loaned money on a solemn promise that it should 
be repaid to them in another world. It was likewise com- 
mon to put letters in the hands of the dead, with the fullest 
belief that they would deliver them to departed souls, ac- 
cording to direction. If people killed themselves, from a 
wish to accompany deceased friends, it was supposed that 
their souls would dwell together. 

Druids had the Persian feeling concerning statues. They 
never represented the gods by images. Their religious cer- 
emonies were performed in consecrated caverns and groves 
of the forest. They supposed such dark and solemn places 
were the favourite resort of powerful spirits, from whom 
oracular communications could be obtained by the per- 
formance of appropriate rites. Military standards were 
kept in the hallowed recesses of these sacred caverns. 
When the Druids delivered them to warriors going to 
battle, they pronounced terrible imprecations on the heads 
of their enemies, devoting them all as victims to Tuisco, 
god of war. The consecrated groves were approached 
with religious awe. Men would have been terrified with 
fears of vengeance from offended deities, if they had cut 
down one of the trees, even by mistake. They hung them 
with garlands and trophies, and the remains of victims 
that had been offered. On altars among the trees were 
placed oblations of fruit, grain, and flowers ; and through 
thickly interwoven boughs rose the smoke of burnt-offer- 
ings; of men and animals sacrificed to propitiate the gods. 
Celtic nations adopted some of the Roman deities, after 


they became a portion of that empire ; but they worshipped 
them according to their ancient fashion, in caverns, or 
groves, or on huge altars of stone reared in the open plain. 
Many vestiges of these old Druidical monuments remain in 
France and England. On the island of Anglesea are the 
ruins of a temple, that enclosed twenty -two acres ; and a 
single one of the stones, when broken in pieces, made 
twenty cart-loads. The famous ruins at Stonehenge, in 
England, are supposed to have been an ancient Temple of 
the Sun. The masses of stone are so immense, that the 
neighbouring peasantry to this day believe they must have 
been brought together by agency of the devil. In some 
places, rocks of prodigious size are poised on small ones, 
in such a manner that they can be easily put in motion, 
though the strength of a giant could not destroy their bal- 
ance. There were but few temples erected for this wor- 
ship, and some of them are said to have resembled those 
of Hindostan. Another proof of the Asiatic origin of these 
tribes is found in the fact that the ancient language of 
Germany, called Teutonic, bears a very strong resemblance 
to Sanscrit. 

In the century preceding the Christian era, Eoman em- 
perors abolished human sacrifices among these people, and 
deprived the Druids of power, on account of their danger- 
ous political influence. 

jews. 881 


Jehovah ! shapeless Power above all powers, 

Single and one, the omnipresent God, 

By vocal utterance, or blaze of light, 

Or cloud of darkness, localized in heaven ; 

On earth enshrined within the wandering Ark ; 

Or out of Zion thundering from his throne 

Between the Cherubim. 


The history of the Jews commences with Abraham, 
their most celebrated patriarch, the tenth generation from 
Noah. It is supposed he was born in Chaldea, about 
two thousand years before Christ. He was doubtless edu- 
cated in the planetary worship of the Chaldeans, and accus- 
tomed to adore the images by which they represented the 
Spirits of sun and stars. Joshua, addressing the tribes of 
Israel, long after Abraham's day, says : " Your fathers 
dwelt on the other side of the flood [the river Euphrates] 
in old time \ even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the 
father of ISTahor ; and they served other gods." The Greek 
historian, Suidas, asserts that Terah was a statuary, and 
made images of the gods for sale. Among the traditions 
of Jewish Eabbis, it is recorded that Terah, having occasion 
to take a journey, left his business in the care of Abraham. 
A man, who came in, apparently to purchase, asked Abra- 
ham how old he was. He replied: "lam fifty." "Yet 
you worship an image made but yesterday !" rejoined the 
stranger. These bold words made a deep impression upon 
Abraham. Some time after, a woman brought flour as an 
offering to the gods ; but Abraham, instead of presenting 
the oblation, placed a hatchet in the hands of the largest 


image, and broke all the others in pieces. When his father 
returned and asked the meaning of this destruction, he re- 
plied that the gods had quarrelled which should have an 
oblation of flour, and the strongest one had destroyed the 
others. " You are bantering," said Terah; "for images 
have not sense to do that." " Say you so ?" rejoined Abra- 
ham ; " then how absurd it is to worship them !" 

The same traditions declare that Abraham was persecuted 
by the Chaldean government, on account of his infidelity 
concerning the popular gods ; that he was condemned to 
pass through fire, but escaped from the ordeal unharmed. 
Terah afterward removed to Haran, in Mesopotamia, ac- 
companied by children and grandchildren. Abraham was 
then seventy years old. According to Josephus, historian 
of the Jews, " he was a person of great sagacity, both for 
understanding all things, and persuading his hearers ; and 
not mistaken in his opinions. For which reason he began 
to have higher notions of virtue than others had, and he 
determined to renew and to change the opinion all men 
had concerning Grod. He was the first who ventured to 
publish the idea that there was but One Grod, the Creator 
of the universe ; that as to other gods, if they contributed 
anything to the happiness of men, they each afforded it ac- 
cording to His appointment, and not by their own power. 
His opiniou was derived from the irregular phenomena vis- 
ible both at land and sea, as well as those that happen to 
the sun, moon, and all the heavenly bodies. If, said he, 
these bodies have power of their own, they would certainly 
take care of their own regular motions ; but since they do 
not preserve such regularity, they make it plain that, so far 
as they co-operate to our advantage, they do it not of their 
own abilities, but as they are subservient to Him, who 
commands them, to whom alone we ought to offer honour 
and thanksgiving. For which doctrine, when the Chal- 
deans, and other people of Mesopotamia, raised a tumult 
against him, he thought fit to leave that country, and at the 
command, and by the assistance of God, he came and lived 
in the land of Canaan." Nahor, his brother, remained with 

jews. 383 

Ms family in Mesopotamia, and his descendants adhered to 
the worship of images. 

Josephus says: " After this, when famine invaded the 
land of Canaan, and Abraham had discovered the Egyp- 
tians were in a flourishing condition, he was disposed to 
go down to them, both to partake of the plenty they en- 
joyed, and to become an auditor of their priests, to know 
what they said concerning the gods ; designing either to 
follow them, if they had better notions than he, or to con- 
vert them into a better way, if his own notions proved the 
truest." He conversed with the most learned among the 
Egyptians, and conferred with various sects, by whom 
" he was admired as a very wise man, and one of very 
great sagacity." 

Among ancient nations and tribes, it was a general cus- 
tom to marry very near relatives, with a view to sustain 
particular families, by strengthening the bond between 
them. According to the testimony of Josephus, Abraham 
married his own niece ; but in Grenesis he himself is re- 
corded as saying: "She is my sister; the daughter of my 
father, but not the daughter of my mother ; and she be- 
came my wife." We are told he returned from Egypt 
" with sheep and oxen, he-asses and she-asses, men-servants 
and maid-servants." Sarah, his wife, being childless, re- 
quested him to take one of these bondwomen for a con- 
cubine. Her name was Hagar, which signifies a stranger. 
She bore Abraham a son, and they called his name Ish- 
mael. Sarah at first loved the child, as if it were her 
own ; but when she herself gave birth to a son, she be- 
came jealous of the older boy, and dealt hardly with his 
mother. She said to her husband : " Cast out this bond- 
woman and her son ; for the son of this bondwoman shall 
not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." Hebrew 
Scriptures inform us that "the thing was very grievous in 
Abraham's sight, because of his son. But God said, 
Hearken unto the voice of Sarah in all she has said unto 
thee." So the poor stranger from a foreign land was sent 
forth with her child into the wilderness, where they came 


near perishing with thirst. After Sarah's death, Abraham 
married Keturah, by whom he had sons. That he like- 
wise had descendants from mothers whose names are not 
mentioned, is implied by the record in Genesis : " Abraham 
gave all that he had unto Isaac. Unto the sons of the 
concubines, which Abraham had, he gave gifts, and sent 
them away from Isaac his son, "unto the east country, while 
he was yet alive." 

Little is known concerning the religious views of Abra- 
ham, except his belief in one Supreme God. Faith in 
subordinate Spirits is implied by the frequent mention of 
angels. In Hebrew, the word angel simply means a mes- 
senger. The young men who ate bread and veal in Abra- 
ham's tent, and seized Lot by the hand to hurry him away 
from Sodom, appear by their proceedings to have been 
mortal messengers ; but Josephus calls them " angels of 
God." "When Hagar and Ishmael were perishing in the 
wilderness, it is said "the angel of God called to her out 
of heaven ;" and when she raised her eyes, she perceived 
a fountain. On several occasions, we are told that " the 
angel of God called to Abraham out of heaven." God 
himself is represented as talking familiarly with him. 
That he appeared in some visible form, seems to be implied 
by the words: "And God left off talking with him and 
went up from Abraham." 

Wherever Abraham sojourned, he erected an altar and 
sacrificed to the Lord. A heifer, a ram, a goat, a turtle- 
dove, and a young pigeon, are mentioned among his offer- 
ings. It was a prevailing opinion with ancient nations, 
that human sacrifices were acceptable to the deities, and 
of higher value than the sacrifice of animals. That Abra- 
ham admitted such an idea, is implied by his belief that 
the Divine Being required him to sacrifice his gentle and 
virtuous son Isaac, then twenty-five years old. Hebrew 
Sacred Writings, as they have come down to us, merely 
state that " God did tempt Abraham, and said, Take now 
thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer 
him for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains I will 

jews. 385 

tell thee of." But when all was in readiness, the angel of 
the Lord called to him out of heaven, to say that his will- 
ingness was a sufficient proof of his obedient faith. " And 
Abraham, lifting up his eyes, saw a ram caught in the 
thicket by his horns ; and he offered him up for a burnt- 
offering instead of his son." Josephus gives a more am- 
plified account of the transaction. He'says : " God being 
desirous to make an experiment of Abraham's religious 
disposition toward himself, appeared to him, and enu- 
merated all the blessings he had bestowed on him ; how 
he had made him superior to all his enemies, and that his 
son Isaac, who was a principal part of his present happi- 
ness, was derived from him ; and he said he required this 
son of his as a sacrifice and holy oblation. Accordingly, 
he commanded him to carry him to Mount Moriah, build 
an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon it. 
Abraham, who thought it was not right to disobey God 
in anything, prepared to follow the injunction. When it 
became necessary to make his intentions known to the 
unconscious victim, he said : 1 my son, I poured out a 
vast number of prayers that I might have thee ; and when 
thou wast come into the world, I was greatly solicitous for 
everything that could contribute to thy support. There 
was nothing wherein I thought myself happier than to see 
thee grown up to man's estate, that I might leave thee 
successor to my dominions. It was by God's will that I 
became thy father, and since it is now his will that I 
should relinquish thee, bear this consecration to God with 
a generous mind. I resign thee up to God, who has 
thought fit to require this testimony of honour to himself, 
on account of the favours he has conferred on me, in being 
to me a supporter and defender. Accordingly, thou, my 
son, will now die, not in any common way of going out 
of the world, but sent beforehand to God, the Father of 
all men, by thy own father, in the nature of a sacrifice. I 
suppose he thinks thee worthy to get clear of this world, 
not by disease, or war, or any of the severe modes by 
which death usually comes upon men ; but he will receive 
Vol. I.— 33 r 


thy soul with prayers and holy offices of religion, and 
will place thee near to himself, and thou wilt there be to 
me a succour and support to my old age, on which account 
I principally brought thee up, and will thereby procure 
me God for my comforter, instead of thyself.' Isaac 
replied that he was not worthy to be born at first, if he 
should oppose the will of God and his father; since it 
would have been wrong not to obey even his father alone, 
if he had so resolved. So he went immediately to the 
altar to be sacrificed. But God called loudly to Abraham 
by name, and forbade him to slay his son ; saying he was 
satisfied by the surprising readiness he showed in this his 
piety, and was now delighted that he had bestowed so 
many blessings upon him. He foretold also that his family 
should increase into many nations ; that those patriarchs 
should obtain possession of the land of Canaan, be envied 
by all men, and leave behind them an everlasting name. 
When God had said this, he produced a ram for the sacri- 
fice, which did not appear before." 

The common idea of the sacredness of groves seems to 
have been inherited by Abraham ; for we are told that " at 
Beersheba he planted a grove, and called there on the name 
of the Lord, the everlasting God." Of the rite of circum- 
cision no mention is made until twenty -four years after his 
visit to Egypt, and fourteen years after he had taken an 
Egyptian concubine. Hebrew Scriptures inform us that 
when her child was thirteen years old, and Abraham was 
ninety-nine, " God made a covenant with him, saying, 
Every male child among you shall be circumcised ;" and 
the rite was accordingly performed on Abraham and all his 

Jewish traditions say the soul of Adam passed into 
Abraham ; the same soul afterward inhabited the form of 
king David ; and it will again animate the Messiah, whom 
they expect. Some Rabbis relate that the mere sight of a 
precious stone hung about Abraham's neck, cured all man- 
ner of diseases ; and after his death, God hung that jewel 
on the sun. 

jews. 387 

Abraham was the first who was called a Hebrew, from 
Hibri, meaning beyond the Euphrates. Some derive the 
appellation from Heber, one of the ancestors of Abraham ; 
but this is probably erroneous. 

In the times of Isaac and Jacob, the Hebrews were merely 
one nomadic family of herdsmen and hunters. The oldest 
in every family performed their simple religious ceremo- 
nies ; for as yet they had no priesthood. Isaac and Jacob 
both married descendants of Abraham's brother Nahor, 
who had remained in Mesopotamia when other members 
of the family departed for Canaan. The nature of their 
worship is indicated by the fact that when Rachel left her 
father's house, she stole his images of the gods. Similar 
ideas were doubtless mingled with the education of her 
children, who were men and women when Jacob removed 
to Bethel. Before he sacrificed to the God of Abraham on 
the altar he had erected there, "he said to his household, 
and to those that were with him, Put away the strange 
gods that are among you. And they gave unto Jacob all 
the strange gods that were in their hands, and he hid them 
under the oak." 

The patriarchal modes of worship resembled those of all 
the nations round about. That ablution was practised be- 
fore they performed religious ceremonies, is shown by Ja- 
cob's inj unction to his household to make themselves clean 
and change their garments before they sacrificed to the 
Lord. Wherever they had a remarkable adventure, or a 
prophetic dream, they set up a pillar of stone, anointed it 
with oil, and "poured a drink-offering thereon." Altars 
were generally built on mountains or hills, where they sac- 
rificed animals, or offered oblations of fruit and grain. 
Jacob vowed a place for worship called Bethel, which 
means (rod's house ; and there he promised to pay tithes 
of all God should give him. 

Angels are spoken of as appearing to the patriarchs not 
only in dreams, but visibly in waking moments. " Jacob 
went on his way, and the angels of God met him ; and 
when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host." Jo- 


sephus says : " Jacob meeting with an angel, wrestled with 
him ; the angel beginning the struggle. But he prevailed 
over the angel, who used a voice and spake to him in 
words, exhorting him to be pleased with what had hap- 
pened to him, and not to suppose the victory was a small 
one; for he had overcome a divine angel, and ought to 
esteem the victory a sign of great blessings that should come 
to him. He also commanded him to be called Israel, which 
in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that struggled with the 
divine angel. These promises were made at the prayer of 
Jacob ; for when he perceived him to be the angel of God, 
he desired he would signify to him what should befall him 
hereafter. When the angel had said what is before related, 
he disappeared. Jacob was pleased with these things, and 
named the place Phanuel, which signifies the face of God. 
Now when he felt pain upon his broad sinew by this strug- 
gling, he abstained from eating that sinew afterward ; and 
for his sake it is still not eaten by us." Hebrew Sacred 
Books relate the adventure more briefly. Jacob remarks : 
" I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved ;" 
which implies a belief that he had wrestled with God him- 
self. The ancient idea that a spirit of prophecy descends 
on souls about to quit this world, seems to have existed here 
also ; for Jacob on his death-bed foretold the destiny of all 
his sons. Blessing his grandchildren before he died, he 
said : " The God of Abraham and Isaac, the Angel which 
redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." Some of the 
Jewish Eabbis, in their commentaries on this text, say their 
ancestor did not directly pray to angels, but invoked God 
through intermediate Spirits, as petitions are presented to 
the king through his ministers. Others say Jacob prayed 
to God for blessings, and to the Angel to avert evils. 

God is represented as saying to Moses: "I appeared 
unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as Elshaddai ; 
but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them. 
Elshaddai is translated the Almighty God. From the few 
fragments of history which have come down to us, it is 
not possible to ascertain clearly what ideas of the Divine 

jews. 389 

Being were entertained by these wandering patriarchs. 
Reverence for the supernatural, which covered ancient 
Hindostan with altars, filled Egypt with temples, and sent 
up incense from all the Grecian hills, inspired them also 
with faith in spiritual agencies, prompted them to offer to 
God the first-fruits of their fields and flocks, and mingled 
religious observances with all the events of life. Their 
moral perceptions were influenced by the rudeness of the 
age in which they lived ; and the same remark applies to 
the founders of all ancient nations. Hebrew records de- 
scribe them as men of God ; but they also tell us that they 
quarrelled about their flocks and herds, and resorted to 
many tricks and falsehoods. Abraham, to ensure his own 
safety, represented his wife as his sister, and by so doing 
brought " great plagues on Pharaoh and his house." While 
Esau had gone out hunting to bring venison for his aged 
father. Jacob disguised himself in Esau's clothes, and made 
his hands hairy, in order to obtain the blessing intended for 
his elder brother. And when the blind old man inquired 
how he had obtained venison so quickly, he had the har- 
dihood to answer : " Because the Lord thy God brought it 
to me." While he served Laban, we are told he artfully 
managed to have all the strong cattle of such a colour as 
Laban had promised to him for wages ; but, in conversa- 
tion with his wives, he devoutly ascribed it all to God : "If 
your father said, The speckled shall be thy wages, then all 
the cattle bare speckled. If he said, The ring-straked shall 
be thy hire, then all the cattle bare ring-straked. Thus 
God hath taken away the cattle of your father and given 
them to me." Josephus informs us that " Jacob was en- 
vied and admired for his virtuous sons." But we find 
eight of them conspiring to murder their younger brother, 
and dissuaded from their cruel purpose only by the sug- 
gestion of one of them to sell him into slavery. Reuben 
was guilty of dishonourable conduct with his father's con- 
cubine. Judah ordered his son's widow to be put to death 
for incontinence, and was induced to recall the sentence 
only because she proved to him that he was himself the 
Vol. I.— 33* 


father of her child. Shechem, the son of a neighbouring 
chieftain, in a sudden fit of amorous passion, took Jacob's 
daughter to himself without asking the consent of relatives, 
or offering the customary purchase-money. He afterward 
sought to atone for his too violent love, by offering mar- 
riage, and whatever dowry her friends required. Her 
brothers replied that such a marriage would be impossible, 
unless he and all his tribe consented to be circumcised, 
according to the custom of the Hebrews. The ardent 
young chieftain agreed to these hard terms ; but when they 
had been fully complied with, Jacob's sons slew him and 
all his people, seized all their possessions, and carried their 
wives and little ones into captivity. 

The sale of Joseph by his brethren was the first circum- 
stance that brought the posterity of Israel into close con- 
nection with Egypt. By his skill in the interpretation of 
dreams, Joseph rose high in favour with one of the Pha- 
raohs, who named him Psothom Phanec, which signifies 
the revealer of secrets, and subsequently invited his rela- 
tives to reside in a district of his kingdom. How far he 
assumed the customs of his adopted country, we are not in- 
formed. That he did so in some degree, is implied by the 
fact that he married an Egyptian wife of high rank, daughter 
of Poti-pherah, priest of On, which Greeks called Heliopo- 
lis. That he practised the magical rites then in vogue, is 
shown by his describing the cup found in Benjamin's sack, 
as " the cup whereby he divined." When he died, his 
body was embalmed and buried by Egyptians ; but it was 
afterward carried to the land of Canaan, according to a 
promise he had required of his brethren. Josephus says 
the posterity of Jacob remained in Egypt four hundred 
years. They dwelt apart, in a district assigned to them, 
because "shepherds were an abomination unto the Egyp- 
tians." But though they were a separate people, with a 
foreign language, the opinions and customs of others grad- 
ually mingled with their own, in the course of centuries. 

Hebrew Sacred Books inform us that the Egyptians, in 
process of time, became jealous of tho rapid increase of 

jews. 391 

Hebrews, and therefore ordered their male children to be 
put to death. Josephus gives an additional reason. He 
says : " One of the sacred scribes among the Egyptians, 
who were very sagacious in truly foretelling future events, 
told the king that about this time a child would be born 
to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the 
Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites." 
This prediction so alarmed the monarch, that he ordered 
all their new-born sons to be drowned. Amram, grandson 
of Levi, was informed in a dream that a babe about to be 
born to him was the remarkable child predicted by the 
Egyptian prophet. When the boy came into the world, 
he was thrown into the river, according to the royal com- 
mand ; but he was carefully enclosed in a strongly woven 
basket, and his sister watched it as it floated down the 
stream. "When the daughter of Pharaoh went with her 
attendants to bathe in the Nile, she saw the basket, and 
caused it to be brought to her. Struck with the uncom- 
mon beauty of the infant, she at once adopted him, and 
sent for a nurse. The babe naturally turned away from 
the breast of a stranger, and his sister Miriam made this a 
pretext for calling his own mother to nurse him. Pharaoh 
ratified his daughter's adoption, notwithstanding the alarm 
which Josephus says he felt concerning the prophecy. 
They bestowed on the foundling the name of Moses, from 
Egyptian words, signifying saved from the waters. This 
is supposed to have happened about one thousand six hun- 
dred years before our era. 

Two sets of influences acted on the child thus rescued, 
and produced a character which has strongly marked 
itself on the history of the world. He was born a He- 
brew, and his people, as herdsmen and labourers, belonged 
to a caste despised by the upper classes of Egypt. He 
was nursed by his own mother, and would naturally keep 
up a subsequent connection with his relatives. Under 
such circumstances, he could scarcely fail to hear the 
prophecies and exploits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 
told with all the exaggerating pride of family and clan, 


winch to tKls day marks the traditions of nomadic tribes. 
That sympathy for his people was kept wide awake within 
him, is manifest by the fact that at forty years old he slew 
an Egyptian because he saw him beating a Hebrew. But 
while the posterity of his ancestors were in the condition 
of ignorant slaves, he himself received the best instruction 
the world then afforded. Writers of his own nation 
thought they awarded him the highest intellectual praise 
when they declared " he was learned in all the wisdom of 
the Egyptians." From all sources there is concurrent 
testimony that Egypt was universally considered the foun- 
tain-head of wisdom and science. Knowledge was shut 
up from the common people, and monopolized by the 
priesthood, which included the royal family within itself. 
Moses, as the adopted son of the king, who was always 
inducted into the sacerdotal ranks before his inauguration, 
must necessarily have been educated by priests, and of 
course familiar with the secret doctrines taught at the 
solemnization of their Great Mysteries. From fitful gleams 
of light, which history throws on the subject, there, is 
reason to suppose these Mysteries inculcated a belief in 
One Invisible God, whose attributes were merely symbol- 
ized by the numerous popular deities. Similar ideas 
would be instilled by his mother and Hebrew relatives, 
when they repeated Abraham's abhorrence of images, and 
traditionary prophecies that his descendants were destined 
to become a mighty nation under the especial guidance of 
the " God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Thus trained 
in sympathy with his people, and educated far above their 
level, he was peculiarly prepared to be their leader ; an 
office which he is supposed to have undertaken when he 
was about eighty years of age. 

The only light we have concerning the departure of the 
Israelites from Egypt, is imparted by Hebrew Sacred 
Books and fragments of Manetho, an ancient historian of 
Egypt, as quoted by Josephus. The book of Exodus in- 
forms us that Pharaoh became jealous of their increasing 
Qumbers, lest in case of war they should join with his 

tews. 393 

enemies. This was a very natural fear, considering how 
much Egypt had suffered from the irruption of a Shepherd 
race from the East, and their consequent dread of wander- 
ing and predatory tribes ; but it produced a policy so 
oppressive toward, the Hebrews, that God commanded 
Moses to bring them out thence, and take possession of the 
promised land of Canaan ; and when they went out, " a 
mixed multitude went with them." 

Manetho, as quoted by Josephus, states that the pro- 
vinces of Egypt rose against the Shepherd race, who had 
subjugated them. A long war ensued, which ended in 
the expulsion of the Shepherds. They were permitted 
"to depart from Egypt with all their families and effects, 
in number not less than two hundred and forty thousand, 
and bent their way through the desert toward Syria. But 
as they stood in fear of the Assyrians, who then had do- 
minion over Asia, they built a city in that country which 
is now called Judea, of sufficient size to contain this multi- 
tude of men, and named it Jerusalem." Some suppose 
the name of Palestine to be derived from Pali-stan, the 
Land of the Pali, which means of Shepherds. Manetho 
goes on to say : " The king Amenophis was desirous of 
beholding the gods, as Orus, one of his predecessors in the 
kingdom, had seen them ; and he communicated his desire 
to a priest, who seemed to partake of the divine nature, 
both in his wisdom and knowledge of futurity. He told 
the king that it was in his power to behold the gods, if he 
would cleanse the whole country of lepers, and other un- 
clean persons that abounded in it. Well pleased with this 
information, the king gathered together out of Egypt all 
that laboured under any defect in body, to the amount of 
eighty thousand, and sent them to the quarries, which are 
situated on the east side of the Kile, that they might work 
in them, and be separated from the rest of the Egyptians. 
Among them were some learned priests, who were affected 
with leprosy. The prophet, fearing the vengeance of the 
gods would fall both on himself and the king, if it should 
appear that violence had been offered to these priests, 


added, also in a prophetic spirit, that certain people would 
come to the assistance of these unclean persons, and would 
subdue Egypt, and hold it in possession thirteen years, 
He dared not communicate these tidings to the king, but 
left in writing what would come to pass, and then de- 
stroyed himself, at which the king was fearfully distressed. 
When those sent to work in the quarries had continued 
some time in that miserable state, the king was petitioned 
to set apart for their habitation and protection the city of 
Avaris, which had been left vacant by the Shepherds ; and 
he granted their desire. But when they had taken posses- 
sion of the city, and found it well adapted for a revolt, 
they appointed for themselves a ruler from among the 
priests of Heliopolis, one whose name was Osarsiph, and 
they bound themselves by oath that they would be obe- 
dient to him. Osarsiph, in the first place, enacted a law 
that they should neither worship the gods, nor abstain 
from those sacred animals which Egyptians held in vene- 
ration, but sacrifice and slay any of them ; and that they 
should connect themselves with none but such as were of 
their own confederacy. When he had made such laws as 
these, and many others of a tendency directly in opposi- 
tion to the customs of the Egyptians, he gave orders that 
they should employ the multitude of hands in rebuilding 
the walls about the city, and hold themselves in readiness 
for war with Amenophis the king. He then took into his 
counsels some others of the priests and unclean persons, 
and sent ambassadors to Jerusalem, to those Shepherds 
who had been expelled by king Tethmosis. He informed 
them of the position of affairs, and requested them to 
come up unanimously to his assistance in this war with 
Egypt. He promised to provide a plentiful maintenance 
for their host, and reinstate them in their ancient city 
Avaris, assuring them that he could easily reduce the 
country and bring it under their dominion. The Shep- 
herds received this message with great joy, and quickly 
mustered to the number of two hundred thousand men, 
and came up to Avaris." The king of Egypt retreated 

jews. 395 

into Ethiopia, fearing the vengeance of the gods if he 
attacked the lepers, on account of the sacredness of the 
priests, who were among them. " When these people 
from Jerusalem had come down, with the unclean of the 
Egyptians, they treated the inhabitants with such bar- 
barity, that those who witnessed their impieties believed 
their joint sway was«more execrable than that which the 
Shepherds had formerly exercised alone. For they not 
only set fire to the cities and villages, but committed every 
kind of sacrilege, destroyed the images of the gods, and 
roasted and fed upon those sacred animals that were wor- 
shipped ; and having compelled the priests and prophets 
to kill and sacrifice them, they cast them naked out of the 
country. It is said that the priest who ordained their 
polity and laws was by birth of Heliopolis, and his name 
Osarsiph, from Osiris, the god of Heliopolis ; but when he 
went over to these people his name was changed, and he 
was called Moses. After this, Amenophis and Eampses 
his son came with a great force, and encountering the 
Shepherds and the unclean people, they defeated them, 
and slew multitudes, and pursued them to the bounds of 
Syria." Such is the Egyptian version of the story, and 
Josephus quotes it to prove that his ancestors were de- 
scended from the Shepherd kings. 

Whether Moses ever was an Egyptian priest, it is now 
impossible to ascertain. But it seems likely that the 
Israelites departed from Egypt about thirty years after 
Cecrops left the same country, to found the city of Athens. 
A man called Moses bound them together by laws, which 
gave a new impress to their character, and strongly influ- 
enced the whole of their future destiny. These laws are 
in many respects obvious copies of what he had learned in 
Egypt ; but he infused some elevated ideas, greatly in ad- 
vance of his time ; ideas which dawned upon his soul by 
the same divine influence which in all ages and all nations 
has guided every human being who has been enabled to 
help the world forward even one single step in its slow 
progress. All surrounding nations had adopted some of 


the subordinate Spirits for their especial guardians, while 
priests, or philosophers, taught among themselves the 
secret doctrine of One Invisible God. Moses declared to 
the Hebrews that the One Supreme God was their tutelary 
deity ; their peculiar guardian and friend, and the sworn 
enemy of all their enemies. He was wiser and stronger 
than any of the gods who protected other nations ; how- 
ever powerful those deities might be, he ruled over them 
all ; and therefore the people whom he had chosen for his 
own would rule over other nations, if they obeyed him. 
He himself chose their ancestor Abraham to be the founder 
of a great nation. He himself had spoken to the Patri- 
archs with his own voice, and guided them in every step 
of their wanderings ; he had appeared to them visibly, and 
in dreams, and had pledged his word that their posterity 
should possess the land of Canaan. Again and again 
Moses repeated : u Thou art an holy people unto the Lord 
thy God. The Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar 
people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon 
the earth." In the name of the Lord he prophesied : 
" Thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not 
borrow ; and thou shalt rule over many nations, but they 
shall not reign over thee." Such were the doctrines and 
promises which fired the zeal and concentrated the ener- 
gies of the Hebrews, and at the same time produced an 
exaggerated estimate of their own importance. 

But though one undivided object of worship was pre- 
sented, instead of a multitude of deities, the ritual pre- 
scribed by Moses bore very strong resemblance to the 
Egyptian models, with which his mind had been long 
familiar. When the people inquired the name of the 
'great God who had chosen them, he told them it was Je- 
hovah ; a word which contains the present, past, and future 
tenses of the Hebrew verb to be ; and therefore signifies I 
am, was, and will be. On a very ancient temple in Egypt 
has been found the inscription, "I am whatever is, was, 
and will be." Hebrews had such reverence for the name 
of Jehovah, that it was never uttered except by the High 

jews. 397 

Priest; and when the people heard it, they all fell pros- 
trate to the ground. They never wrote it, "but expressed 
it in their Sacred Books by a short mark, which they 
pronounced Adonai, meaning the Lord. The names of 
Egyptian deities were never written in the popular lan- 
guage of the country; they were always expressed by 
symbols ; and even in their sacred language the names of 
some divinities were always written in one way, and pro- 
nounced in another. Hindoos had similar scruples con- 
cerning the name of Brahm. 

Judges in Egypt, who were always priests, wore a 
breastplate ornamented with jewels, containing the images 
of two deities, Thme, goddess of Truth or Justice, and B&, 
god of the Sun, signifying Light, or Manifestation. The 
Urei, or Asps, were emblems of royalty in Egypt, and 
often affixed, in hieroglyphics, to the disc of the sun, 
because he was the king of planets. Moses ordained that 
Hebrew High Priests should wear a breastplate set with 
precious stones, and that the Urim and Thummim should 
be placed therein. There has been much controversy 
among commentators concerning the Urim and Thum- 
mim. The sun in Hebrew is Aur; plural, Aurim. Truth 
is Thme ; plural, Thmim. When learned Jews translated 
their Sacred Scriptures into Greek, they translated Urim 
and Thummim into Greek words signifying Manifestation 
and Truth. Philo, a learned Jew, informs us that the 
breastplate of their High Priest contained "images of the 
two Virtues, or Powers." 

The portable temple, which Moses made in the form of 
a tent, and called the Tabernacle, was constructed on the 
same principles as Egyptian temples. It faced the east ; it 
had a tank of water for ablution ; it had an outer enclo- 
sure, another within, called the Sanctuary, or Holy, and 
another inmost, called Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of 
Holies ; veiled from the congregation by a gorgeous cur- 
tain of blue, purple, and scarlet. In the inmost sanctuary 
of Egyptian temples was a chest or shrine, surmounted by 
a sacred image, overshadowed by creatures with wings. 
Vol. I.— 34 


In the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Tabernacle was a chest, 
or ark, plated with gold, and overshadowed by the wings 
of cherubim, touching each other. There has been much 
discussion concerning these cherubim. Josephus says 
they were " flying animals, like to none which are seen 
by men, but such as Moses saw figured in the throne of 
God." Ezekiel, alluding to these emblems, describes the 
same face in one place as the face of an ox, and in another 
as the face of a cherub. The word cherub in Hebrew 
means to plough. It is now the general opinion of scholars 
that the Hebrew cherubim were creatures resembling the 
winged bulls, so common as sacred emblems in Chaldea 
and Egypt. The Hebrew Ark had rings, through which 
poles were slipped, that it might be carried on the shoulders 
of priests. In many of the religious processions sculptured 
in ancient Egyptian temples, priests are represented carry- 
ing their sacred shrine in the same manner. 

Kings and priests in Egypt were anointed with sacred oil. 
Moses prepared fragrant oil, consecrated it, and laid it up 
in the Tabernacle to anoint the Hebrew priests. In Egypt, 
the High Priesthood descended in the same family ; it was 
the same with the Hebrews. In Egypt, portions of land 
were set apart for the sacerdotal order, and the same pro- 
vision was made for Hebrew priests. In both countries, 
the priests wore pure white linen, and performed many 
ablutions. In both countries, the government was a the- 
ocracy ; everything being decided by oracles delivered to 
priests in the temple. 

Egyptians welcomed the New Moon with religious cere- 
monies ; so did the Hebrews. They had harvest festivals, 
during which they offered the first sheaves of their grain 
to Isis ; Hebrews did the same in the service of Jehovah. 
Sculptures in Egypt, made long before the time of Moses, 
represent priests offering cakes, meal, wine, turtledoves, 
and young pigeons, to their gods ; and precisely these obla- 
tions to Jehovah are prescribed by the Hebrew Law. 
Hindoos and Egyptians had an idea that the fumes of 
animal sacrifices were acceptable to the deities, and in some 

jews. 399 

sort necessary to them. In the Laws of Moses, burnt- 
offerings of animals are continually called " a sweet savour 
unto the Lord." Hindoos and Egyptians believed fra- 
grance was peculiarly agreeable to divine beings; and 
Hebrews were commanded to wave incense before the 

Egyptian priests, with solemn ceremonies, laid the sins 
of the nation on the head of a bullock, sacrificed the 
victim, and removed far from them the head, on which 
the sins were supposed to rest. Moses ordained that the 
sins of the priesthood should be laid on the head of a 
bullock, to be afterward sacrificed; and the sins of the 
people to be laid on the head of a goat, who was afterward 
thrown over a precipice, that he might carry the sins off 
with him. Both Hindoos and Egyptians- attached peculiar 
sacredness to cows. The ashes of cow-dung, prepared 
with solemn ceremonies, is prescribed in the Yedas to be 
mixed with water as an appropriate purification to keep 
away the Spirits of Death. Moses commanded the chil- 
dren of Israel to burn a red heifer, " skin, flesh, blood, and 
dung." The ashes thus obtained was gathered up, and 
kept for purposes of purification. The priest mixed it 
with water, and sprinkled it with a bunch of hyssop 
upon whoever had touched a human bone, or a grave, or 
a dead body, or had entered a tent where a corpse was 
lying. - 

From time immemorial it has been the custom for tra- 
velling parties in Hindostan to take with them a pole with 
the image of a serpent wreathed round it. Serpents of 
brass and serpents of silver abounded in Egyptian tem- 
ples, and were mysteriously connected with their ideas of 
the healing art. From them Greeks learned to attach 
similar medical importance to the serpent; and the em- 
blem of their iEsculapius, god of medicine, was a serpent 
wreathed round a pole. Hebrew Sacred Books tell us 
that Moses made a serpent of brass and put it upon a 
pole; "and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten 
any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." 


Egyptians had great abhorrence of swine, and considered 
the flesh unclean above all other food. Priests purified 
themselves with religious ceremonies if they touched the 
beast, even accidentally; for it was the common belief 
that Evil Spirits were peculiarly prone to take up their 
abode in them. Moses said to the children of Israel : " The 
flesh of swine shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye 
not touch ; they are unclean to you."" If they happened 
to touch one, they went through ceremonies of purification 
before they ventured to approach any sacred place. 

"Why Moses was not circumcised, being a descendant of 
Abraham, and adopted by Egyptians in infancy, is not 
explained; but the fact is implied by his saying to the 
Lordr "Behold I am of uncircumcised lips; how then 
shall Pharaoh hearken unto me ?" The question plainly 
indicates that the rite was deemed of importance by the 
Egyptians.. While Moses dwelt with Jethro, priest of 
Midian, he seems to have neglected the circumcision of his 
son. But when he was about to return to Egypt, the rite 
was performed, though Zipporah, his wife, appeared averse 
to the custom. 

•Hindoos and Egyptians, being ignorant of the fact that 
lain is caused by continued exhalations from the earth and 
ocean, supposed that there was a great reservoir of waters. 
above the sky. That Hebrews entertained the same idea, 
is shown by their statement that when Jehovah created 
the world,, "he divided the waters which were under the 
firmament from the waters which were above the firma- 

Many more points of resemblance would doubtless be- 
come obvious, if Egyptian records had come down to us 
as fully as the Hebrew. But Moses took some very im- 
portant steps in advance of the country where he was 
educated. The descendants of his ancestor Levi were 
ordained a line of hereditary priests • and the family of 
his brother Aaron was instituted a perpetual order of High 
Priests. But with this exception, he did not divide the 
people into castes. Egyptian priests kept the higher por« 

jews. 401 

£?ons of their religion as mysteries carefully concealed 
from the populace. But the religion taught by Moses was 
equally open to all classes. In the name of the Lord, he 
announced to all the Hebrews : " Ye shall be unto me a 
kingdom of priests, a holy nation." When one ran and 
told him that two men were prophesying in the camp, he 
nobly replied: "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God 
that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the 
Lord would put his spirit upon them." Some of the Le- 
vites took advantage of this equalizing doctrine, and said 
to Moses and Aaron; " Ye take too much upon you, see- 
ing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and 
the Lord is among them," Nevertheless, a line of separa- 
tion was, to some extent, established between the initiated 
few and the rude tribes they governed. Moses and Aaron, 
and all the succeeding series of High Priests, are repre- 
sented as in possession of some means of direct communi- 
cation with Heaven, unknown to the common people, and 
carefully preserved from them. 

The greatest step in advance was the idea of God as an 
Invisible Being, never to be represented by any image or 
symbol. There is much reason to suppose that enlightened 
Egyptians also believed in One All Including Being, from 
whom Amun and the other deities emanated. But their 
Supreme pause was probably a mere abstraction, like the 
Hindoo Brahm, and the Persian Zeruane Akerene. And 
even that metaphysical idea was known to the priests only, 
while the multitude were left to worship cats and dogs, 
bulls and crocodiles. Moses, on the contrary, represented 
the One Invisible God as living in the midst of the peo- 
ple, sustaining, protecting, rewarding, and punishing them. 
In most contemporary nations, the division of the gods into 
masculine and feminine, had led to many gross ideas and 
licentious practices in religious ceremonies. There were 
no traces of such in the teachings of the 'Hebrew law- 
giver ; and the consequence was a much higher and purer 
worship than belonged to any of the surrounding nations. 
But their ideas of God were not sufficiently elevated for 
Vol. I.— 34* 


tliem to imagine him above all human passions. Anger, 
jealousy, and revenge, are perpetually imputed to him. 
Of a Hebrew who offered any homage to the gods of 
other nations, it was said : "The Lord will not spare him ; 
but the anger of the Lord, and his jealousy, shall smoke 
against that man." And God said: "If thou afflict any 
widow, or fatherless child, my wrath shall wax hot, and I 
will kill you with the sword." It was common, in describ- 
ing offenders, to say: "The Lord rooted them out in 
anger, and wrath, and great indignation." Sometimes he 
is represented as changeable of purpose, repenting of the 
evil he had done, or intended to do. When the golden 
calf was made, the Lord said unto Moses : "Behold it is a 
stiff-necked people ; now, therefore, let me alone that my 
wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume 
them. And Moses besought the Lord his Grod, and said, 
Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, 
which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt ? 
Wherefore should the Egyptians say, For mischief did he 
bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and con- 
sume them from the face of the earth? Tarn from thy 
fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thy servants, to 
whom thou swarest by thine own self, I will multiply thy 
seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land will I give 
unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever. And 
the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto 
his people." When the children of Israel murmured in 
the wilderness, "the Lord said unto Moses, How long 
will this people provoke me ? I will smite them with the 
pestilence, and disinherit them. And Moses said unto the 
Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear of it, and they will 
tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard 
that thou Lord art among this people, that thou art seen 
face to face, that thou goest before them by day in a pillar 
of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou 
shalt kill all this people, then the nations which have 
heard of thee will say, Because the Lord was not able to 

JEWS. 403 

bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, 
therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. I beseech 
thee pardon the iniquity of this people, according unto the 
greatness of thy mercy. And the Lord said, I have par- 
doned, according to thy word." The commands and 
actions attributed to God constantly manifest the same 
tendency to judge of the Supreme Being as if he were 
like unto themselves. He is represented as commanding 
them to "buy bondmen and bondwomen of the heathen 
round about. They shall be your bondmen forever. 
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, 
and he die under his hand, he shall be surely punished. 
Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not 
be punished ; for he is his money." 

" Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Go and smite Amalek, 
and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them 
not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling." 

"Of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy 
God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save 
alive nothing that breatheth. Thou shalt utterly destroy 

" If a man cause a blemish in his neighbour, as he hath 
done so shall it be done unto him. He that killeth a man, 
he shall be put death. Breach for breach, eye for eye, 
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for 
burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe ; as he hath 
done, so shall it be done unto him again." 

While the children of Israel were dwelling in the 
vicinity of Moabites, they were invited to attend some of 
the festivals of the gods of Moab. They consented, " and 
did eat, and bowed down to their gods." " And the anger 
of the Lord was kindled against Israel ; and he said unto 
Moses, Take all the heads of the people and hang them 
up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger 
of the Lord may be turned away from Israel." 

Concerning those who were drawn toward other modes 
of worship than the Hebrew, the Lord commanded : "If 
thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy 


daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which 
is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us 
go and serve other gods; thou shalt not consent unto him, 
nor hearken unto him ; neither shall thine eye pity him, 
neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. 
But thou shalt surely kill him ; thine hand shall be first 
upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of 
all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, 
that he die." 

While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, 
they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath 
day. "And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall 
surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone 
him with stones without the camp. And all the congre- 
gation brought him without the camp, and stoned him 
with stones, and he died." 

The remarkable familiarity with G-od which character- 
ized patriarchal times, is likewise conspicuous in the his- 
tory of Moses. Hebrew Scriptures declare that " the Lord 
spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his 
friend." On one occasion, Moses and Aaron, and seventy 
of the elders of Israel, went up unto the Lord. " And 
they saw the God of Israel : and there was under his feet 
as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it 
were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the 
nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand ; also 
they saw God, and did eat and drink." On another occa- 
sion, Moses said unto the Lord : " I beseech thee show me 
thy glory. And the Lord said, Thou canst not see my 
face; for there shall no man see me and live. Behold 
there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock, 
and I will cover thee with my hand as I pass by ; and I 
will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back 
parts ; but my face shall not be seen." 

Among all ancient nations, mountains were venerated, 
partly owing to the awful majesty they imparted to 
scenery, and partly from a conviction that the higher the 
earth ascended, the nearer it approached the residence of 

jews. 405 

divine beings, and the more certainty was there that they 
would hear the invocations and prayers of mortals. Hence 
we find anchorites and prophets of all lands had the cus- 
tom of ascending mountains, in order to receive spiritual 
communications. Moses went up Mount Sinai and re- 
mained forty days in the midst of its awful solitudes, to 
inquire of God what laws he should give the Israelites ; 
and the people were told to tarry for him in the valley 
below. During this interview, as related in Hebrew 
Sacred Books, he received ten commandments graven on 
stone. " And the tables were the work of God, and the 
writing was the writing of God." Not only the moral 
precepts and the civil code, but all the ceremonies, and 
minutest practical details, rules for weaving cloth, for 
trimming the hair and beard, the length and breadth of 
the Ark, fringes on the priests' garments, the number of 
branches on the golden candlestick, and the number of 
knobs on each branch, were all prescribed by God, in 
familiar conversation with Moses. When envy was ex- 
cited because Moses held the office of Lawgiver, and his 
brother Aaron that of High Priest, the Lord gave Moses 
special directions how to act in this emergency. He com- 
manded that the chief of each of the twelve tribes should 
bring a branch of almond tree to Moses, who was in- 
structed to write every man's name on his branch, and 
deposit them all in the Tabernacle. And the Lord pro- 
mised to show the people whom he had chosen for the 
priest, by causing his branch to blossom during the night. 
Accordingly, in the morning, the branch which Aaron had 
brought for the tribe of Levi was covered with buds, blos- 
soms, and fruit ; and by this miracle the family of Aaron 
became an hereditary priesthood during the national ex- 
istence of the Hebrews. 

In some cases, the divine commands are represented of 
a contradictory character ; as when God commanded the 
Israelites to borrow ear-rings and other jewels of the 
Egyptians, and carry them away, though He had previ 
ously commanded them not to steal. 


On one important occasion, the Hebrew lawgiver acted 
upon the suggestion of Jethro, his father-in-law, and no 
mention is made that either of them took counsel of God. 
Jethro, seeing Moses wearied with settling the innumera- 
ble cases brought before him from morning till night, 
advised him to choose elders from among the people to 
settle minor questions. Moses acted upon his suggestion, 
and appointed seventy elders, called the Sanhedrim. 

Trial by ordeal was prescribed in the law of Moses, as 
it was in the Hindoo, and other ancient codes. If a man 
was jealous of his wife and wished to test her innocence, 
it was ordained that he should bring her to the priest, who 
took " holy water in an earthen vessel, and put into the 
water dust from the floor of the Tabernacle." He then 
administered an oath to the woman, and solemnly pro- 
nounced curses upon her, if she said she was guiltless, and 
swore falsely. He wrote the curses and blotted them out 
with the water, and then gave it to the accused to drink. 
" And the Lord said to Moses, When he hath made her 
drink the water, then it shall come to pass that if she 
have done trespass against her husband, the water that 
causeth the curse shall enter into her and become bitter, 
and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot ; and the 
woman shall be a curse among her people." 

One passage in the Mosaic dispensation appears like a 
recognition of human sacrifices. It is as follows : " No 
devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of 
all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field 
of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed. Every de- 
voted thing is most holy unto the Lord. None devoted, 
which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed : bat 
shall surely be put to death." Jephthah burnt his daughter 
as a sacrifice to the Lord ; but there is no record that 
Moses sanctioned such a practice, or that it prevailed 
among the Hebrews at any period ; unless the slaughter 
commanded by Moses, as atonement for worshipping the 
golden calf, be considered as a human sacrifice. He 
ordered the sons of Levi to "put every man his sword by 

jews. 407 

his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout 
the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man 
his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the 
children of Levi did according to the word of Moses ; and 
there fell of the people about three thousand men. For 
Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord, 
even every man upon his son, and upon his brother ; that 
he may bestow upon you a blessing this day." The first- 
born of all cattle were set apart to be sacrificed to the 
Lord ; but the first-born of human beings were redeemed 
by consecrating an equal number of men to the religious 
services of the Tabernacle. This substitution was the 
origin of the order of Levites. Moses counted the whole 
tribe of Levi, and then counted all the first-born of the 
Israelites, from a month old and upward. The first-born 
of the people exceeded the tribe of Levi, by two hundred 
and seventy-three; and these were redeemed by paying 
five shekels each to the priests. The same sum continued 
ever after to be paid for all first-born children. All the 
tribe of Levi were consecrated to the service of God ; and 
this was considered in the light of an atoning sacrifice for 
the sins of the whole people. But as they were not put 
to death, and as it was supposed God required blood for 
atonement, two bullocks were sacrificed in their stead. 
The Levites laid their hands upon the heads of these vic- 
tims, that the sins, which the whole nation laid upon the 
tribe of Levi, might be transferred to the beasts, whose 
blood was shed as an expiation. God said to Moses : " The 
life of the flesh is in the blood ; and I have given it to you 
upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls ; for 
it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul." 

In the writings ascribed to Moses, nothing is said con- 
cerning the immortality of the soul, nor is there any 
record by which his opinions on that subject could be 
ascertained. The rewards promised to the Israelites, and 
the punishments threatened, are altogether of a temporal 
nature. It is declared that " God will visit the sins of the 
fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth gen- 


eration." " If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice 
of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all his command- 
ments, the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the 
fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the 
fruit of thy ground. The Lord shall cause thine enemies 
that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face : 
they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before 
thee seven ways. Thou shalt lend unto many nations, 
and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make 
thee the head, and not the tail. But if thou wilt not 
hearken unto the Lord thy God, to observe and do all his 
commandments and statutes, cursed shall be thy basket 
and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and 
the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the 
flocks of thy sheep. The Lord will smite thee with con- 
sumption, and fever, and inflammation, and extreme burn- 
ing, and with the sword, and with blasting, and mildew. 
And the Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thy 
enemies : thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee 
seven ways before them. The Lord will smite thee with 
the botch of Egypt, with the emerods, with the scab, and 
with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The 
Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and 
astonishment of heart. Also every sickness, and every 
plague, which is not written in the book of this Law, them 
will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. 
As the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to 
multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy 
you, and to bring you to naught." 

That the policy of Moses was illiberal toward foreigners, 
is to be attributed to the circumstances in which he was 
placed. He appears to have been a wise and far-sighted 
man, greatly in advance of the age in which he lived ; but 
he had to deal with ignorant and barbarous tribes, incapa- 
ble of appreciating his motives, or understanding the high 
destiny marked out for them. All the energies of his 
great soul were employed to form them into a distinct 
nation, and raise their religious ideas above the worship 

jews. 409 

of images. To promote these objects, it was necessary to 
forbid marriage with other nations and tribes, to inculcate 
detestation of their worship, to discourage commerce, to 
avoid foreign literature and the arts, with all of which the 
worship of images was intimately connected. In preserv- 
ing themselves a distinct and peculiar people, the Hebrews 
necessarily became narrow and exclusive. In all their 
regulations, there was a marked distinction between them- 
selves and foreigners. At the end of every seven years, 
all debts due from one Hebrew to another were released ; 
but debts due from a foreigner might be exacted. If a 
Hebrew became very poor, he might sell himself, and one 
of his own nation might buy him for a term of years ; 
" not as a bondservant, but as an hired servant." At the 
end of every seven years he might go out free, if he 
wished, and the master was enjoined to supply him liber- 
ally with grain, wine, and flocks. The Lord said to 
Moses : " They shall not be sold as bondmen. Both thy 
bondmen and thy bondmaids shall be of the heathen that 
are round about you. Of the children of the strangers shall 
ye buy. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for 
your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; 
they shall be your bondmen forever. But over your 
brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule with 
rigour." Though it was not allowable for one Hebrew to 
sell another to a person of any other nation, a poor Hebrew 
might sell himself as a servant to a rich sojourner, who 
dwelt in the midst of them ; but he had the privilege of 
being redeemed at any time, either by himself or his rela- 
tives. There were gleams of a kindly spirit even toward 
foreigners. Moses ordained : " If a stranger dwelleth with 
you in your land, ye shall not vex him. He shall be unto 
you as one born among you ; and thou shalt love him as 
thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." In 
all that related to their own internal policy, great liberality 
is manifested. All the regulations tended to promote 
equal distribution, moderate abundance, respect for do- 
mestic institutions, and unstinted kindness to the poor. 
Vol. I.— 35 s 


If a man had built a new house and not dedicated it, or 
planted a vineyard and not eaten of it, or married a wife 
and not taken her home, he was not required to go forth 
with the tribes to battle, lest he should die without a taste 
of his promised happiness. To prevent the land from 
passing into the hands of strangers, or becoming accumu- 
lated in large estates belonging to a few of the wealthy, 
there was a great Jubilee appointed every seven times seven 
years. If any Hebrew had sold his estate, and been unable 
to redeem it, the land was returned to him, or his heirs, 
at the Jubilee. All Hebrews who were sold as servants, 
either to their own people, or to sojourners, became free at 
that joyful festival. The Lord said: "Thou shalt hallow 
the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the 
land, and unto all the inhabitants thereof. Ye shall re- 
turn every man unto his possessions, and unto his family." 
" The land shall not be sold for ever ; for the land is mine, 
saith the Lord." " Thou shalt not make clean riddance 
of the corners of thy field, when thou reapest the harvest 
of thy land, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy 
harvest. If thou hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou 
shalt not go again to fetch it. Thou shalt leave them unto 
the poor and the stranger. When thou beatest thine olive 
tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again ; it shall be 
for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 
When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou 
shalt not glean it afterward ; it shall be for the stranger, 
the fatherless, and the widow." In addition to these 
benevolent provisions for every year, a portion of the 
proceeds of every man's land was set apart for the poor 
every third year. Six " Cities of Eefuge" were provided, 
where he who had killed a man might remain in safety, 
till the matter was fairly investigated by established 
tribunals. The purity of women was carefully guarded 
from such customs as contaminated the worship of many 
neighbouring countries. For these humane and equalizing 
regulations, for teaching the same religion to priests and 
people, and for holding up the doctrine of one Supreme 

JEWS. 411 

Being, in the midst of most discouraging obstacles, our 
gratitude and reverence are due to Moses. Deservedly he 
stands conspicuous among the agents, whom God has 
chosen in all ages, and from all nations, to bring the world 
gradually out of darkness into light. 

After the death of Moses, Joshua led the people over 
Jordan, and conquered many of the tribes of Canaan. 
He taught the Israelites, as his predecessor had done, that 
they were the chosen agents of Jehovah, to exterminate 
idolaters and take possession of their lands. But tribes, 
who had cities and vineyards thus violently wrested from 
them by foreign invaders, naturally viewed the subject in 
another light. Procopius, a Greek historian, native of 
Caesarea, in Palestine, supposed to have died six hundred 
and fifty years after our era, speaking of a nation in Libya, 
says: "They were the Gergesites, Gebusites, and other 
nations, who were driven out of Palestine, by Joshua the 
son of Nave." [Nun.] He testifies that he himself saw the 
following sentence, engraved in Phoenician characters, 
near a fountain in Libya : " We are they who fled from 
the face of Joshua the robber, the son of Nave." The 
author of Ecclesiasticus calls Joshua the " son of Nave," 
that being a change in the name by Jews who spoke 

When Grecians represented their deities as conniving 
at falsehood, and assisting to break solemn treaties, their 
perfidy was sanctified to popular imagination, by its being 
always done in favour of the Greeks, who believed them- 
selves especial favourites of the gods. In a similar spirit, 
Hebrews represented Jehovah as commanding his chosen 
people to steal from the Egyptians, and to kill by thou- 
sands, men, women, and infants, from whom they had 
received no injury ; and when the bloody work was accom- 
plished, they devoutly thanked the Lord, because he had 
given them "vineyards they had not planted, and harvests 
they had not sowed." 

Hebrew Sacred Books declare that Joshua was " full of 
the spirit of wisdom ; for Moses had laid his hands upon 


him : and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and 
did as the Lord commanded Moses." He also is said to 
have acted under the immediate and perpetual guidance 
of Deity. "After the death of Moses, it came to pass 
that Jehovah spake unto Joshua." 

Concerning the rite of circumcision, we are told that 
" the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives and 
circumcise the children of Israel the second time. And 
this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise. All the 
people that came out of Egypt were circumcised, and they 
had all died in the wilderness by the way ; but all those 
that were born in the wilderness they had not circum- 
cised." The fact that Egyptians considered all uncircum- 
cised men unclean, is implied in the record of this transac- 
tion ; for after the rite had been performed on all the 
Hebrews, " the Lord said to Joshua, This day have I 
rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." 

The directions Joshua received from God are character- 
ized by the same austerity as those to Moses. He was 
commanded to exterminate the Canaanites; "to destroy 
them utterly, and leave nothing to breathe." When one 
of the Hebrew soldiers concealed under his tent some gold 
and silver taken from images or temples, among the spoils 
of war, " the Lord commanded Joshua to burn him, and 
all that he had, with fire. So Joshua, and all Israel with 
him, took him, and his sons, and his daughters, and his 
oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tents, and all 
that he had, and all Israel stoned them with stones, and 
burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with 

The Tabernacle had been carried with the Israelites in 
all their wanderings through the wilderness. Wherever 
it rested, there they pitched their tents ; and whenever it 
moved, though in the middle of the night, they rose and 
followed it. This prompt obedience originated in theii 
belief that it was God's house, where he actually dwelt ; 
and that He himself went before them as a guide, in the 
form of a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, 

jews. 418 

Joshua brought the Tabernacle into the land of Canaan. 
Seven years it remained at Gilgal, guarded by a strong 
force, while the Israelites encamped there. "When they 
went to battle, the Ark was taken out of it and carried 
before them, that the Lord might be always present with 
them, ready to be consulted in case of difficult emergencies. 
When Israel had more quiet possession of the land of 
Canaan, the Tabernacle was removed to Shiloh, and en- 
closed within walls. At Mount Ebal, Joshua built an altar 
of whole stones, and wrote on the stones a copy of the 
Law of Moses, and "read all the words before all the 
congregation of Israel, with the women and the little ones, 
and the strangers that were conversant among them. And 
they offered upon the altar burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, 
and peace-offerings, to the Lord God of Israel." 

The Hebrews, and "the mixed multitude" who, accord- 
ing to their Sacred Kecords, came up with them from 
Egypt, were so imbued with the customs of that country, 
that even Aaron consented to make a golden calf for them 
to worship, and himself ejected an altar before it. Not- 
withstanding the severe edicts of Moses, and the efforts of 
Joshua to impress them on the minds of the people, they 
manifested in Canaan the same proneness to idolatry. 
Joshua found it necessary to assemble the tribes and 
earnestly remind them of the temporal blessings they had 
received from their tutelary God : " Thus saith the Lord 
God of Israel, I brought your fathers out of Egypt. And 

I brought you into the land of the Amorites. And I sent 
the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, 
even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy 
sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land 
for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, 
and ye dwelt in them; of vineyards and olive yards, 
which ye planted not, do ye eat." And Joshua said: 

II Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity 
and truth ; and put away the gods, which your fathers 
served on the other side of the flood, [the river Euphrates] 
and in Egypt. But if it seem evil to you to serve the 

Vol. I.— 35* 


Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve ; but as for 
me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the 
people answered, The Lord our God brought our fathers 
out of the land of Egypt, and drove out from before us all 
the people, even the Amorites, which dwelt in the land ; 
therefore will we serve the Lord. And Joshua said to the 
people, He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your 
transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake him and serve 
strange gods, he will turn and do you hurt, and consume 
you, after that he hath done you good. Now therefore 
put away the strange gods that are among you, and incline 
your heart to the God of Israel. And the people said, 
We will serve the Lord our God, and his voice will we 
obey. And Joshua made a covenant with the people, and 
set them a statute and an ordinance, and wrote the words 
in the book of the Law of God, and took a great stone 
and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanc- 
tuary of the Lord. And he said, This stone hath heard 
all the words of the Lord, which he spake unto us; it 
shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest ye deny your 

Hebrew records declare that the very next generation of 
"the children of Israel forsook the Lord God of their 
fathers, and served Baal and Ashtaroth." The first is 
supposed to have been the Chaldean representative of the 
Sun, and the other the Syrian representative either of the 
Moon, or of the planet Venus. Wild and troubled times 
followed the death of Joshua. Israelites intermarried with 
neighbouring tribes, and "forgat the Lord their God, and 
served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the 
Lord waxed hot against Israel." The king of Mesopotamia 
conquered them, and they served him eight years before 
they were delivered out of his hand. Forty years after, 
the king of Moab conquered them, and they served him 
eighteen years. He was finally murdered by one of the 
tribe of Benjamin, and the Israelites had rest for eighty 
years. After that, they were conquered by the king of 
Canaan. At that period, Hebrews were governed by 

jews. 415 

judges ; and it is a very remarkable feature in such un- 
settled times that " Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of 
Lapidoth, judged Israel." By pursuing her advice the 
king of Canaan was conquered, and "the land had rest 
forty years." Then the Midianites conquered Israel and 
kept them in subjection seven years, so that they were 
compelled to " hide in dens in the mountains." In their 
distress, they cried unto the Lord, and a prophet named 
Gideon rose up to remind them of the God who brought 
their fathers out of Egypt. " The Lord said unto Gideon, 
Throw down the altar of Baal, which thy father hath, and 
cut down the grove that is by it ; and build an altar unto 
the Lord thy God, and take thy father's young bullock and 
offer a burnt-sac 1 ifice with the wood of the grove, which 
thou shalt cut down." Gideon obeyed the command ; but 
so popular were the foreign gods, that he did it in the. 
night-time, not daring to do it by day. When the men 
of the city discovered who had done it, they insisted he 
should be put to death ; but his father warded off the pre- 
sent danger, and Gideon afterward secured the affections 
of the people by fighting successfully against the Midi- 
anites. He requested the men of Israel to bring him all 
the golden ear-rings they took with the spoils of war, and 
they willingly gave them, " beside ornaments, and collars, 
and purple raiment, that was on the kings of Midian, and 
chains that were about their camels' necks. And Gideon 
made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city." There is 
no explanation concerning the use made of this ephod, but 
the natural supposition would be that it was consulted as 
an oracle. That it came in some way to be regarded as an 
idol, is implied by the remark that " all Israel went thither 
a whoring after it; which thing became a snare unto 
Gideon and his house." 

"As soon as Gideon was dead, the children of Israel 
turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made 
Baal-berith their God." When the Ammonites conquered 
them, " and vexed and oppressed them eighteen years," 
they began again to cry unto the Lord. But " the Lord 


said, Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen. 
Let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. 
And the children of Israel said, We have sinned against 
thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also 
served Baalim. And they put away the strange gods 
from among them, and served the Lord ; and his soul was 
grieved for the misery of Israel." Jephthah, " a mighty 
man of valour," was raised up to rescue his countrymen 
from the Ammonites. He ruled over Israel six years, as 
judge and general. In his history occurs the only instance 
of human sacrifice recorded in the Hebrew Sacred Writings. 
Before he went forth to battle, he made a vow that if he 
were victorious, he would sacrifice to God, as a burnt- 
offering, whatever should first corne forth from his house 
to meet hirn on his return. His daughter, his only child, 
came out to welcome him, and "he did with her according 
to his vow." This circumstance is told in the Book of 
Judges, without any expressions of disapprobation. 

Daring the times of Joshua and the Judges, the visits 
of angels are still described as common occurrences. " It 
came to pass when Joshua was near Jericho, that he lifted 
up his eyes and looked, and behold a man was standing 
beside him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua 
went to him and said, Art thou for us, or for our foes? 
And he said, Neither; for I am come as the prince of 
Jehovah's host. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, 
and did homage to him, and said, What would my Lord 
say to his servant ? And the prince of Jehovah's host said 
to Joshua, Loose the shoe from thy foot, for the place thou 
standest upon is holy." An angel, who came up from 
Gilgal to admonish the nation, speaks as if he were Jehovah 
himself, saying: "I made you go out of Egypt." An 
angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak, and talked 
with Gideon while he was threshing wheat. Gideon pre- 
pared food for him, and was told to spread it on the rock. 
When the angel touched it with his staff, fire came out of 
the rock and consumed the food, and the angel vanished. 
Such visits appear to have been regarded as omens of 

jews. 417 

death ; for Gideon was alarmed, and said : " Alas, because 
I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face 1" And the 
Lord said to him : " Fear not ; thou shalt not die." An 
angel appeared to the wife of Manoah and predicted the 
birth of Samson. She described him to her husband as 
"a man of God, whose countenance was like an angel of 
God, very terrible." Afterward he appeared to her again, 
and she ran to call her husband, who offered him food ; 
"for he knew not that he was an angel of the Lord." 
The mysterious visitor refused to eat, or tell his name; 
but commanded that the kid prepared for food should be 
burnt on the rock, as a sacrifice to the Lord ; and when 
the flame rose, the angel ascended in it. Manoah and his 
wife fell on their faces to the ground, and said : " We shall 
surely die, because we have seen God." 

A regular, established priesthood was incompatible with 
such unsettled times. Men consecrated their own priests, 
who were sometimes of the tribe of Levi, sometimes of 
other tribes. It is to be presumed that the people received 
little instruction in the Laws of Moses, for it is obvious 
enough that they were perpetually infringed, without 
meeting the punishment he affixed to such offences. It is 
recorded that a man of Mount Ephraim, whose name was 
Micah, took eleven hundred shekels of silver from his 
mother, and afterward restored them, confessing the theft. 
" And his mother took two hundred shekels of the silver, 
and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven 
image and a molten image ; and they were in the house 
of Micah. And Micah had an house of gods, and made 
an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, 
who became his priest. " And a young man of the family 
of Judah, who was a Levite, came to the house of Micah 
and sojourned there. And Micah said, Dwell with me, 
and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee 
ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and 
thy victuals. And the Levite was content to dwell with 
the man, and Micah consecrated the Levite, and he became 
his priest." He was probably called a Levite merely be- 



cause lie was acquainted with the prescribed Levitical 
ritual ; for he is said to have been of the tribe of Judah. 
That it was considered fortunate to obtain possession of 
such a private chaplain, is implied by Micah's remark: 
" Now I know the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a 
Levite to my priest." Yet Moses would have "stoned 
him with stones till he died ;" for he was priest to " a graven 
image and a molten image." 

At that time the tribe of Dan were looking about to 
seize land wherever it best suited them to dwell. Hebrew 
Sacred Books tell us that when their messengers came to 
Laish, they found that the inhabitants thereof dwelt quiet 
and secure, had no commerce with other men, were too far 
from the Sidonians to be protected by them, and had no 
magistrate in the land to put strangers to shame for any- 
thing they might do. These were deemed suitable reasons 
for seizing on their possessions for the tribe of Dan. Ac- 
cordingly, when the pioneers went back and gave infor- 
mation concerning the state of things, their brethren 
mustered six hundred men, with weapons of war, and 
went to attack Laish. Their ancestors had slaughtered 
men, women, and children, because Moses and Joshua 
told them it was the divine command that they should 
utterly exterminate idolaters. But these warriors were 
impelled by no such zeal in the service of one invisible 
God. For when they came to Mount Ephraim, and passed 
the house of Micah, the messenger, who had previously 
been sent to spy out the land, said : " Do ye know there 
is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven 
image, and a molten image? And they came in thither 
and took the graven image, and the molten image, the 
ephod, and the teraphim. Then said the priest unto them, 
What do ye ? And they said, Hold thy peace ; lay thine 
hand upon thy mouth, and go with us. Is it better for 
thee to be a priest unto one man, or that thou be a priest 
unto a tribe and a family in Israel? And the priest's 
heart was glad ; and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, 
and the graven image, and went in the midst of the 

jews. 419 

people. When they were a good way from the house, 
Micah and his neighbours overtook them. And Micah 
said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the 
priest and ye are gone away; and what have I more? 
And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice 
be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and 
thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household. And 
when Micah saw they were too strong for him, he turned 
and went back to his house. And the children of Dan 
went their way, and came unto Laish, unto a people that 
were quiet and secure, and they smote them with the 
edge of the sword, and burnt their city with fire. And 
they called the city Dan, after the name of their father, 
who was born unto Israel. And they set up Micah's 
graven image, and Jonathan and his sons were priests to 
the tribe of Dan." The people publicly resorted thither, 
to worship and consult the teraphim of Micah, until the 
tribes of Israel were carried away captive. 

We are told that, in the days of the Judges, " every 
man did that which was right in his own eyes ;" and some 
of their recorded transactions certainly prove a very 
savage state of society. There is a story related in Hebrew 
Sacred Books, concerning a young Levite, who was bring- 
ing home his concubine from his father's house in Bethle- 
hem-Judah. In the course of their journey, they came 
among the "Benjamites, who had not sufficient hospitality 
to offer them a shelter for the night. An old man of 
Mount Ephraim, seeing them in the street, invited them to 
his house. In the course of the night, some Benjamites 
came and beat at the door, and made indecent demands 
concerning the traveller. Frightened by their violence, 
he at last agreed to let them have his concubine. The 
poor woman died in the hands of the brutal multitude, 
and in the morning her corpse was found at the door. Her 
husband cut her in pieces, and sent a fragment to each of 
the tribes of Israel, calling upon them to revenge the 
wickedness done by some of the Benjamites. In obedience 
to this summons, the tribes came up to battle against 


Benjamin ; but they were defeated, with twenty -two thou- 
sand slain. Phineas, the priest, a descendant of Aaron, 
stood before the Ark of the Covenant, where oracles were 
received from God. There " he asked counsel of the 
Lord, saying, Shall we again go up to battle against the 
children of Benjamin our brother? And the Lord said, 
Go up against them." Accordingly, they went forth the 
second day, and were defeated, with eighteen thousand 
slain. The priest again inquired at the Ark whether the 
children of Israel should go to battle against Benjamin. 
And the Lord answered, " Go up against him." They 
attacked the Benjamites a third time, and destroyed 
twenty-five thousand and a hundred of them. The sequel 
of the story implies that the women of Benjamin, though 
not implicated in the offence, were slaughtered almost to 
extermination. " The men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, 
saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto 
Benjamin to wife." But after the Benjamites were nearly 
destroyed, " the people wept sore, saying, Lord God of 
Israel, why has this come to pass, that there should be one 
tribe lacking in Israel? They repented them for Benja- 
min their brother, and said, How shall we do for wives 
for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the Lord 
that we will not give them of our daughters for wives ?" 
In this dilemma they concluded to send twelve thousand 
valiant men to attack Jabesh Gilead, and destroy all the 
men, and all the married women. They did so, and 
brought away captive four hundred maidens, and gave 
them to the Benjamites for wives. But the number did 
not suffice them. And "the elders of the congregation 
said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain? 
There must be an inheritance for them, that a tribe be not 
destroyed out of Israel. Howbeit, we may not give them 
wives of our daughters; for the children of Israel have 
sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benja- 
min." The people of Shiloh annually observed a festival, 
and came forth with songs and dances in honour of some 
deity ; and it happened that the time for this festival was 

jews. 421 

near at hand. The elders of Israel advised the Benjamite 
widowers to wait for this opportunity, and hide themselves 
in the vineyards, in order to catch the young women as 
they came out to dance. "And the children of Benjamin 
did so, and took them wives of them that danced, whom 
they caught." 

In such unsettled and marauding times, the priesthood 
could not have been in a very flourishing condition. The 
only mention made of them is in connection with Eli ; and 
his children are described as "sons of Belial, who knew 
not the Lord." "It was the priests' custom with the peo- 
ple, that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant 
came, while the flesh was in seething, with a flesh-hook of 
three teeth in his hand ; and he struck it into the pan, or 
kettle, or caldron, and all that the flesh-hook brought up 
the priest took to himself." But when any of the Israelites 
went up to Shiloh to sacrifice, the sons of Eli, who were 
priests by hereditary right, sent their servant to say : 
" Give flesh to roast for the priest ; for he will not have 
sodden flesh of thee, but raw." And if the sacrificer 
asked him to wait till the fat was first burned on the altar, 
a sacrifice to the Lord, he answered: "Nay, thou shalt 
give it to me now ; if not, I will take it by force." Such 
conduct made the people abhor to offer sacrifices to the 
Lord; and their aversion to the young priests was in- 
creased by the charge brought against them, that " they 
lay with the women who assembled at the door of the 

Hebrews, in common with most nations of antiquity, 
had the custom of dedicating their children to the service 
of a Deity, by vows made in some peculiar emergency. 
Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, was exceedingly grieved 
because she had no children. She went up to Shiloh to 
worship, and wept before the Lord, saying: "If thou wilt 
give unto thine handmaid a man-child, then I will give 
him unto the Lord all the days of his life." She afterward 
gave birth to Samuel. As soon as he was weaned, his 
parents took him up to the house of the Lord, in Shiloh, 
Vol. I.— 86 


and offered three bullocks, and an ephah of flour, and a 
bottle of wine ; and they left the little boy with Eli the 
priest, saying : " As long as he liveth, he shall be lent to 
the Lord." "And the child was girded with a linen 
ephod, and ministered before the Lord. Moreover, his 
mother made him a little coat, and brought it from year to 
year, when she came up with her husband, to offer the 
yearly sacrifice." Hebrew Sacred Writings declare that 
God chose him, and appointed him to an especial mission, 
even in his childhood. One evening, when he lay down 
to sleep, he heard a voice calling him ; and he rose and 
went to Eli, saying : " Here I am ; for thou didst call me." 
The aged priest made answer: "I called thee not, my 
son. Lie down again." And " the Lord called yet again. 
And Samuel went to Eli and said, Here am I. And he 
answered, I called thee not, my son. Lie down again. 
The Lord called Samuel the third time. Now Samuel did 
not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord 
yet revealed to him. And he went to Eli and said, Here 
am I ; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the 
Lord had called the child." He to]d him to lie down, and 
when he again heard the voice, to answer: "Speak, Lord, 
for thy servant heareth." He did so; and the Lord in- 
formed him that he would visit the family of Eli with 
heavy judgments, " because his sons made themselves vile, 
and he restrained them not." 

As Samuel grew to manhood, he spoke boldly against 
the evil practices he witnessed, and became famous, as " a 
prophet to whom the Lord had revealed himself." At that 
time, the Israelites renewed their attacks on the Philistines. 
No reason is assigned for it ; but it probably arose from 
their abiding conviction that they had a divine right to take 
possession of their neighbour's land, on account of the 
promise made to Abraham. According to custom, the 
army took with them the Ark of the Covenant, that the 
presence of God might ensure to them the victory. But 
the event proved disastrous. A messenger came to Eli 
and told him that Israel fled before the Philistines, that his 

jews. 423 

two sons were slaughtered, and the Ark of God was taken. 
At these tidings the old priest fell down and died ; and the 
wife of one of his sods gave premature birth to a boy, 
whom, with her dying breath, she named Ichabod, which 
signifies departed glory. " The glory is departed from 
Israel," said she; "for the Ark of God is taken." 

It was the universal opinion of ancient nations that 
tempests, famine, pestilence, and all other remarkable afflic- 
tions, were owing to the anger of some deity, on account 
of his neglected worship. The Ark of the Hebrews re- 
mained seven months with the Philistines, and they kept 
it in a temple which they had built to a god called Dagon. 
In the course of these seven months, their land was un- 
usually infested by mice, and a troublesome disease, called 
the emerods, prevailed extensively. It was suggested 
among them that the God of the Hebrews sent these 
plagues, because the Ark, in which he dwelt, had been 
taken away from the people whom he protected, and he 
was thus deprived of his accustomed worship. Their 
priests and divines, being consulted, advised them to put 
the Ark of the Hebrews into a new cart, drawn by two 
young cows, which had never worn a yoke ; and to make 
five golden images of mice, and five golden images of the 
emerods, one for each of their five cities, and put them in 
a box beside the Ark, as a trespass-offering to the god of 
the Hebrews, whom they had probably offended. They 
were further instructed to send the cows away without a 
guide ; and if they of their own accord took the road to 
Beth-Shemish, then they should know for a certainty that 
the pestilence had been sent upon them by the Hebrew 
god. When the cows were fastened to the cart, they went 
straight to Beth-Shemish, whose name signified the House 
of the Sun, probably on account of some temple to the Sun 
erected there. It was one of the cities apportioned to priests 
of the tribe of Judah, after the conquest of Canaan. The 
men of Beth-Shemish were reaping wheat when the cart con- 
taining the Ark stopped in a field near them, and stood by 
a great stone. They were rejoiced at the sight, and Levites 


went and took the Ark, and the box containing the golden 
images, and laid them on the great stone. And the men 
of Beth-Shemish cut up the wood of the cart, and with it 
burnt the two young cows, as an offering to the Lord. 
Some of the men of the place had the curiosity to peep 
into the Ark. It is not stated whether they were Israelites 
who did this ; but the record declares that the Lord pun- 
ished their curiosity by the death of more than fifty thou- 
sand men. When the people saw that the Lord had 
smitten them with such great slaughter, they became afraid 
of the Ark, and sent to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, 
begging them to come and take it away. So it was carried 
thither, " to the house of Abinadab in the hill ; and it is 
said, " the men of Kirjath-jearim sanctified Eleazar, son of 
Abinadab, to keep the ark." For twenty years it remained 
thus obscurely in the hands of a private family. 

The more pious among the Israelites felt deeply hu- 
miliated under the conviction that the presence of Jeho- 
va was withdrawn from them on account of their sins. 
They sought counsel from Samuel, in whom they found a 
second Moses. The office of Judge was conferred upon 
him, and he ruled Israel for twelve years. He earnestly 
repeated, what had so often been impressed upon the He- 
brew mind, that Jehovah was a jealous Grod, and if they 
would propitiate him, they must put all other gods entirely 
away. Under the influence of Samuel, the children of 
Israel again resolved " to put away Baal and Ashtaroth, 
and serve the Lord only." They gathered together unto 
Samuel, and poured out a libation of water before the 
Lord, and Samuel prayed for them. It is supposed that 
he first established seminaries, called Schools of the Pro- 
phets, where young men of all the tribes were instructed 
in the Law of Moses, in the history of their own nation, in 
medicine, music, and sacred poetry. The course of teaching 
did not embrace general information, but was entirely con- 
fined to subjects connected with the Hebrew religion. 

In Samuel's old age, the people became discontented, on 
account of the corruption of his sons. They demanded to 

jews. 425 

have a king, and he anointed Saul to rale over them. 
More than four hundred years before that time, the tribe 
of Amalek had laid wait for the children of Israel as they 
came up out of Egypt, and fought with them. Samuel 
said to Saul : " The Lord sent me to anoint thee king over 
his people Israel. Now, therefore, hearken unto the 
voice of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, I re- 
member that which Amalek did to Israel, when he came 
up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly 
destroy all that they have, and spare them not ; but slay 
man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel 
and ass." Saul accordingly went up against the Amale- 
kites and destroyed them; but he was induced to save 
Agag their king, and the best of the sheep and oxen. 
Samuel was exceedingly offended that his orders had not 
been literally obeyed. When Saul humbly acknowledged 
his error, and pleaded in excuse that the people wished to 
spare the fattest of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the 
Lord their God, he sternly answered : "To obey is better 
than sacrifice." Then he ordered Agag to be brought, 
11 and he hewed him in pieces before the Lord." Samuel 
afterward consented to appear at a public sacrifice with 
Saul; but thenceforth there was coolness between the 
powerful prophet and the king whom he had anointed. 
It is recorded that " the word of the Lord came to Samuel, 
saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be 
king." Soon after the Lord told him to fill a horn with 
oil, and go to Bethlehem, and secretly anoint David the 
son of Jesse to be king. David had his own armed band 
of followers, and became an object of great jealousy to 
Saul. Nob was then the chief town of the priests, where 
religious ceremonies were daily performed by descendants 
of Eli, though the Ark still remained at Kirjath-jearim. 
David and some of his followers came to Nob, and being 
hungry, asked the priests for bread. They replied that they 
had none, except the sacred show-bread, which was dedi- 
cated to the Lord. But when David represented that his 
necessities were very pressing, they gave him five loaves 
Vol. 1.— 36* 


of the holy bread, and armed him with the sword of 
(xoliah, which had probably been kept in some sacred 
place as a trophy. When Saul heard of this, he sent 
soldiers to Nob, who slew eighty-five priests, and all the 
men, women, children, oxen, and sheep. 

In the second year after David became king, he went 
with thirty thousand chosen men to bring the Ark of the 
Covenant from Kirjath-jearim, and place it in a new Tab- 
ernacle on Mount Zion. The Laws of Moses expressly 
required that the Ark should always be carried on staves, 
slipped through rings, and borne on the shoulders of 
Levites. But on this occasion, it was placed in a new cart 
drawn by oxen, after the fashion of surrounding nations, 
who were accustomed thus to carry images of their gods, 
and other sacred symbols. David and all the people went 
in procession before the Ark, dancing and playing on a 
variety of musical instruments. When they came near 
Mount Zion, the oxen jostled the Ark, and Uzzah, a 
Levite, put forth his hand to steady it. JSTow, by the Laws 
of Moses, a Levite was not allowed to see the Ark un- 
veiled, much less to touch it. " And the anger of the 
Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and Grod smote him there 
for his error; and he died there by the Ark of God." 
This sudden disaster excited such consternation, that David 
did not dare to have the Ark brought into Jerusalem. It 
was accordingly "carried aside into the house of Obed- 
Edom the Grittite." When it had remained there three 
months, it was told king David that the Lord had blessed 
the house of Obed-Edom, because of the Ark. These 
tidings removed his fears, and again he went forth with a 
great multitude, and brought it to Mount Zion with songs 
and dances, and the sound of trumpets. The king himself 
danced before it, having taken off his royal robes, and 
girded himself with the linen ephod of a priest. 

With David's reign commenced a new and important 
era in the history of the Hebrews. In the time of Abraham, 
there was a city called Salem, said to have been governed by 
a king named Melchisedec. David found it in the posses- 

jews. 427 

sion of the Jebusites. Perceiving that its situation was 
well adapted for a central point of union to all the tribes 
of Israel, he conquered it and fortified it, and named it 
Jeru-Salem, from Hebrew words signifying He shall see 
Peace. When the new city was well established, he opened 
commerce with his neighbours the Tyrians, a much more 
wealthy, and cultivated people than the Hebrews. The 
character of the laws given by Moses, and the subsequent 
wandering and predatory habits of the tribes, had been ex- 
tremely unfavourable to the cultivation of the sciences, or 
the arts. Architecture was in the rudest state among 
Hebrews, but the Tyrians were skilful workmen. There- 
fore, when David "grew great," and wished to build him- 
self a palace, he was obliged to send to the king of Tyre 
for cedar-trees, carpenters, and masons. 

While the Israelites themselves dwelt in tents, they had 
made a tent-temple for the Ark of Grod. But now, when 
the king had built a royal house for himself, it seemed to 
him that the Deity he worshipped ought not to dwell less 
honourably. He said to Nathan the Prophet : " See now 
I dwell in an house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwelleth 
within curtains." Nathan at first encouraged his idea of 
building a temple, but in tne night the Lord revealed to 
the prophet that it was his will to have the temple built 
by a son of David, whose posterity he promised should be 
forever established on the throne. In one place, Hebrew 
records declare that David could not find time to build a 
temple, on account of " the wars that beset him on every 
side ;" in another place, it is said the Lord forbade him to 
do it, "because he had shed so much blood upon the 
earth." He was successful above all the leaders of his 
nation. He took rich spoils in war, and kings who sought 
his alliance rewarded his powerful assistance with treasures 
more splendid than had ever been seen in Israel. He con- 
secrated a large portion of these to religious uses, as thank- 
offerings to Jehovah for his great prosperity. So that at 
his death there was a large supply of gold and silver, 
marble and cedar, in readiness for the temple. In the 


mean time, he introduced great improvements into the 
public worship. Trumpets were the only instruments pre- 
scribed by Moses; but David, who was himself a skilful 
player on the harp, introduced into the service of the 
Tabernacle trained bands of singers and musicians, who 
performed on harps, psalteries, cymbals, and an instrument 
with small tinkling bells. He encouraged the cultivation 
of sacred poetry, and himself composed religious songs, 
which breathed devout aspirations in some of the sublimest 
language of lyric poetry. 

This illustrious monarch, the object of so much pride 
and reverence to Hebrews, is called in their Sacred Writ- 
ings, "a man after God's own heart. 7 ' The ideas men 
formed of God at that period are therefore indicated by the 
prominent points of his character. He was a man of great 
energy and powerful passions; fierce and revengeful to- 
ward his enemies, but endowed with susceptibility of feeling, 
which made it natural for him to weep over a fallen foe. 
He was constitutionally ardent, with the devout tendency 
which usually belongs to such temperaments; hence he 
rushed into sins, and then " humbled himself before the 
Lord," with repentance as earnest as his crime. The 
generosity of his character, and the strong attachment he 
inspired, are implied by the following anecdote related of 
him: During one of his severe campaigns among the 
Philistines, being sorely afflicted with thirst, he expressed 
a longing for some water from the well of Bethlehem, his 
native town. Three of his followers, who heard the wish, 
forced their way through the enemy's host, at peril of their 
lives, and brought the water he so much desired. Touched 
by this proof of their affection, he refused to drink it. 
Famishing as he was, he poured it out a libation before 
Jehovah, saying, Be it far from me, Lord, that I should 
do this. Is not this the blood of the men who went in 
jeopardy of their lives?" By his wise policy he cemented 
the tribes together in strong bonds of union. His success 
flattered their pride ; and his constant habit of attributing 
all good fortune to Jehovah, greatly strengthened their re- 

jews. 429 

liance on that powerful God, who had chosen them for his 
especial favourites. The reverential tendencies of the 
royal Psalmist are abundantly indicated by his forbearing 
to kill Saul when he was in his power, because he was 
"the Lord's anointed," by the tone of his grand old 
temple-songs, by his careful observance of religious cere- 
monies, and by the frequency with which he sought counsel 
of God, through the agency of oracles and prophets. But 
his devout aspirations and pious resolutions were far above 
his practice. He prayed like a saint, and poured forth 
sublime poetry like an inspired prophet, and he did so 
sincerely and earnestly ; yet in many things he acted like 
an ambitious politician, and a ferocious man of blood. 
During the conflict between his followers and the ad- 
herents of Saul, Jonathan, the beloved friend of David, 
and son of Saul, had a child of five years old who was 
lamed in both his feet ; for his nurse let him fall when she 
was fleeing from the horrors of civil war. It was not till 
the royal house of Saul were entirely subdued, and David 
had nothing further to fear from them, that he inquired 
whether any of the descendants were left, to whom he could 
"show kindness for Jonathan's sake." The lame, disin- 
herited boy had by that time grown to manhood, and 
become a father. He was proffered a seat at the royal 
table all the days of his life, and received back the estate 
which belonged to his grandfather. After the war occa- 
sioned by Absalom's rebellion, there was famine in the 
land. This might very naturally arise from neglect of 
crops during civil commotions; but David, according to 
the prevailing ideas of his time, believed it to be the direct 
vengeance of God, in punishment for some sin. Accord- 
ingly, he inquired of the Lord what was the cause of the 
famine. And the Lord answered : " It is for Saul and his 
bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." It seems 
the Israelites had sworn not to molest # the Gibeonites; but 
Saul, for some unmentioned reason, had slain a number 
of them. He had been thirty years in his grave, when 
David was informed that the Lord was punishing all the 


people for his old transgressions. He went to the Gibeonites 
and asked what atonement would satisfy them. They re- 
fused to take gold or silver as a ransom for their slaughtered 
brethren, and demanded seven of Saul's descendants, that 
they might "hang them up unto the Lord ;" in other words y 
offer them as a human sacrifice. David spared the de- 
scendants of Jonathan, on account of an oath he had sworn 
to his early friend. But he gave up two of Saul's sons by 
a concubine, and five sons of Michal, Saul's daughter. 
"And the Gibeonites hanged them on the hill, before the 
Lord." Michal had loved David in his days of compara- 
tive obscurity, and had been the first wife of his youth. 
Afterward, when there was civil war between Saol and 
David, her father gave her in marriage to another man, by 
whom she had these five sons. When David became king, 
he demanded her again, though he then had two other 
wives. Perhaps he thought his regal power would be 
more securely established, as the acknowledged son-in-law 
of Saul. Michal's second husband seems to have loved 
her tenderly, for when she was carried away from him, 
"he followed her weeping," until the king's messengers 
ordered him to turn back. From what is recorded, she 
and David do not appear to have lived on good terms 
after this forced reunion. Still worse was his conduct to 
one of his generals, named Uriah. Having accidentally 
seen his beautiful wife, while she was bathing, he fell in 
love with her, and caused her to be brought to his palace, 
while Uriah was absent fighting his battles. When she 
afterward informed him that she was likely to be a mother, 
he sought to shield himself from disgrace, by bringing Uriah 
home. Failing in that attempt, he caused him to be slain, 
and afterward married the beautiful widow. His acts of 
cruelty were not always of a kind to be excused as hasty 
impulses of a zealous temperament. A fierce spirit of re- 
taliation often marked his conduct and his writings, and in 
some cases it seems to have been cherished by him for 
years. When he conquered the Moabites, he caused the 
inhabitants of all their cities to be executed by various 

jews. 431 

modes of torture, described as "putting them under saws, 
and under harrows of iron, and passing them through the 
brick-kiln." On his death-bed, when he was a very old 
man, he charged his successor not to let the hoary head of 
Joab go down to the grave in peace. Joab had brought 
odium on David's administration by some unauthorized 
acts of military zeal against the house of Saul ; he had 
likewise «lain Absalom, the beautiful son of David, in the 
days of his rebellion. At that time, Shimei, who belonged 
to the same tribe as Saul, cursed David, and expressed his 
gratification that one of his own sons had risen against 
him, as he had formerly risen against Saul, his benefactor. 
Shimei afterward humbly asked forgiveness, and David 
solemnly promised, before all the people, that he would do 
him no injury. But ten years after, when he was dying, 
he charged Solomon to " bring down the hoary head of 
Shimei to the grave with blood;" saying that he himself 
could not do it, because he had sworn to him by the Lord 
that he would not put him to death. Yet Hebrew Sacred 
Records, after recounting all these things, declare David 
did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and 
turned not aside from anything he commanded him all 
the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the 

Solomon fulfilled the sanguinary injunctions of his dying 
father, and likewise put to death a brother, whose priority 
of birth gave him a claim to the throne. These transac- 
tions do not seem to have made him too much " a man of 
blood" to be a fitting instrument in building the projected 
temple. In the fourth year of his reign he began this 
great work, on which an army of labourers are said to 
have been employed. He numbered the foreigners in. 
Israel, who were probably made bondmen by conquest 
Hebrew Sacred Records inform us that eighty thousand of 
these were employed to hew and work stone, and seventy 
thousand to bear burdens, under the control of three 
thousand six hundred overseers. Thirty thousand Israel- 
ites cut timber in Lebanon, by courses ; ten thousand in 


each month, while the others rested. The ornamental 
work was done by skilful artificers from Tyre. ISTotwith^ 
standing the number of workmen, it was seven years be- 
fore the temple was completed. The wrought stones were 
so fitted to their places before they were brought to Jeru- 
salem, that they were put together without noise. He* 
brews had a tradition that they were not hewn or smoothed 
by any instrument, but a worm called Samir was created 
by God on purpose to do that business ; and the stones, 
thus miraculously prepared, moved to the temple of their 
own accord, where angels laid them in their places, 

A mass of buildings for the priests, and various other 
religious purposes, was enclosed within a wall. In the 
centre, and overlooking them all, was the famous temple. 
It had an outer court surrounded by a wall, and an inner 
court separated from the outer by colonnades with brazen 
gates. Sacrifices and prayers were offered in the inner 
court, which contained a brazen altar for burnt-offerings, 
and an immense tank, or basin of brass r supported on the 
backs of twelve brazen oxen. This was for the conveni- 
ence of the priests, who were required to perform ablutions 
before they entered the temple. A pipe supplied it with 
water from a well y and it contained enough for two thou- 
sand baths. There were likewise ten large lavers of brass, 
supported on small pillars, and engraved with likenesses 
of bulls, lions, and eagles. These were for washing por- 
tions of the animals offered in sacrifice. 

The temple was an oblong building of white stone. 
According to the dimensions given, it must have been 
about the size of a small European cathedral. On three 
sides were corridors rising above each other to the height 
of three stories, supported by stately pillars, and containing 
apartments in which sacred utensils and treasures were 
kept. The fourth and front side was open, with a portico 
at the entrance supported by two brazen pillars, highly 
ornamented with representations of palm trees, lilies, and 
pomegranates. The body of the temple, separated and 
veiled from the porch, was called the sanctuary^ or hoty 

jews. 433 

place. The doors were carved with cherubim, palm trees, 
and flowers, gilded, and covered with an embroidered 
curtain. The walls were carved with the same figures, 
laid in gold, and in some places adorned with precious 
stones. Here stood an altar of gilded Arabian wood, used 
solely to sustain a golden dish, in which frankincense 
burned perpetually. It was a Hebrew tradition that fra- 
grance diffused from this table might be smelled from 
Jerusalem to Jericho. The great number of animals 
slaughtered, and the blood poured out and sprinkled in 
multifarious religious ceremonies, would probably have 
been disagreeable without this precaution. On a golden 
table was laid an offering to the Lord of twelve loaves of 
bread, one from each tribe. These were renewed every 
Sabbath, and the old loaves divided among the priests. 
Ten branching candlesticks of gold sustained golden lamps, 
filled with pure olive oil, not pressed out in a mill, but 
such as exuded, drop by drop, from bruised olives, and 
was thus perfectly free from sediment. They were kept 
burning day and night, the sanctuary not being lighted by 
any other means. 

Within the sanctuary was a secret apartment, called the 
sanctum sanctorum, or holy of holies. The floor was of 
cedar overlaid with gold. The ceiling was covered with 
plates of gold fastened with golden nails. The walls were 
of polished marble lined with cedar, carved with cherubim, 
palm trees, and flowers, richly gilded. The door, carved 
and gilded after the same patterns, was separated from 
the sanctuary by chains of gold, and an embroidered curtain 
of blue, purple, and crimson. In the inmost recesses of 
this holy place, Solomon put two gigantic images of cheru- 
bim, fifteen feet high, of gilded olive wood. Their outer 
wings touched the wall on either side, and the inner wings 
met together. Immediately under their wings was placed 
the Ark of the Covenant, whose golden cover was called 
the Mercy Seat, because God there showed himself propi- 
tious, after being appeased by the blood of sacrifices. 
Golden images of cherubim were on the Mercy Seat, one 
Vol. I.— 37 t 


on either end, bending toward each other, and forming 
with their outstretched wings a kind of seat, called the 
Throne of Grod. Over it was a visible cloud, called the 
Shechinah, or Divine Presence, in which Jehovah was sup- 
posed to be actually present. Hence he is often spoken of, 
in the Hebrew Sacred Books, as " dwelling between the 
cherubim." The Ark was the same one constructed by 
Moses, from money, ear-rings, and other jewels, which the 
people dedicated for that purpose. All other things con- 
nected with the temple were made anew by Solomon, ac- 
cording to patterns prescribed by Moses, though greatly 
exceeding them in splendour. The colossal cherubim placed 
on each side of the Ark, and the representations of bulls, 
lions, and eagles, seem like an infringement of the com- 
mand that no graven images should be made. They were 
probably additions suggested to Solomon by his intercourse 
with Tyrians and Egyptians. 

A great number of gold and silver utensils were made 
for the use of the temple, and these were continually in- 
creased by gifts from devotees, who expected thereby to 
gain favours from their Grod. 

Before the building could be fit for worship, the altar 
for burnt-offerings must first be purified from pollutions it 
had acquired by the hands of workmen and the touch of 
tools. For this purpose, a bullock was sacrificed, and the 
priest put some of the blood on the horns of the altar with 
his finger. When this had been repeated seven days, the 
altar was ready for sacrifice, and thenceforth sanctified 
everything that touched it. The altars, and all the utensils, 
were anointed with oil made fragrant by spices ; a quantity 
of which had always been kept in the holiest place, by com- 
mand of Moses, to be used only for consecrating kings, 
high priests, and vessels belonging to the House of Grod. 

When everything was duly prepared, all the tribes of 
Israel assembled with their elders, and, with the king at 
their head, went in procession to Mount Zion to bring- 
thence the old Ark of the Covenant. When it was 
opened, it was found to contain only the two tables of 

jews. 435 

stone, with graven commandments, which Moses had 
placed therein at Horeb. Priests, sanctified for the pur- 
pose, took up the Ark, carried it to the new temple, and 
placed it in the holy of holies. At that moment, a hundred 
and twenty priests in the sanctuary sounded their silver 
trumpets ; bands of musicians began to play, and Levites, 
clad in white linen, sang, " Praised be the Lord ! for he is 
good; for his mercy endureth for ever." " The trumpeters 
and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in 
praising the Lord." While this great chorus was resound- 
ing through the temple, the Shechinah, or Divine Presence, 
which five hundred years before had descended over the 
Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle, descended in the same visible 
form of a cloud, and rested over the Mercy Seat in the 
Temple. It was probably accompanied by sudden light ; 
for it is stated that " the glory of the Lord filled the house ; 
so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of 
the cloud." 

When Moses offered a burnt-offering to the Lord, "fire 
came out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the 
altar the burnt-offering and the fat." The flame thus 
kindled was not allowed to go out, and no other was used 
for religious purposes. When two sons of Aaron burned 
incense before the Lord, kindled with common fire, Hebrew 
Sacred Writings declare that "fire came from the Lord and 
devoured them, and they died." Whether the sacred fire 
was afterward lost, in the course of their wanderings and 
their wars, is not stated. But when Solomon offered his 
first burnt offering on the new altar of the temple, we are 
told that fire came running out of the air, and consumed 
the sacrifice. And when all the children of Israel saw it, 
" they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground." 
This heavenly fire was tended night and day by priests, 
who fed it with perfectly clean wood, stripped of its bark, 
and free from all imperfections. It was deemed sacrilege 
to resuscitate this holy flame by blowing upon it with the 

" The king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord, 


twenty-two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty 
thousand sheep ; so the king and all the people dedicated 
the House of God. And Solomon kept the feast fourteen 
days, and all Israel with him/' Kneeling on a high plat- 
form above the crowd, he spread out his hands and prayed: 
" Lord God of Israel, there is no God like unto thee, in 
the heaven, nor on the earth. But will God in very deed 
dwell with men upon the earth ? Behold heaven and the 
heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less 
this house which I have built ! But hearken unto the sup- 
plications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which 
they shall make toward this place. Hear thou from thy 
dwelling place, even from Heaven, and when thou hearest 

It was an universal custom to choose the highest site 
within a city for the temple of its presiding deity. Solo- 
mon's temple stood on Mount Moriah, in the centre of 
Jerusalem, which was thenceforth called the Mountain of 
the Lord's House. According to Hebrew traditions, it was 
the place where Cain and Abel offered oblations, and where 
Abraham made ready to sacrifice Isaac. People believed 
the temple was actually God's house ; that he had a local 
and personal residence in the Holy of Holies, and mani- 
fested himself in the form of a shining light. The High 
Priest went there to ask questions of him, and received 
answers, which were considered oracles. They spread a 
golden table with bread for Jehovah, as they would have 
done for a temporal king in his own palace. They sup- 
posed he enjoyed the fragrance of incense and the savour 
of burning sacrifices; and Jerusalem was considered pre- 
eminently safe, happy, and glorious, because he was sup- 
posed to be more peculiarly and permanently present there 
than elsewhere. 

Before the temple was built, the people had always been 
accustomed to sacrifice in "high places." Hills that sup- 
plied the shade and solemnity of groves were preferred by 
the devout of all nations; and in such places altars and 
images were sure to abound. The extreme proneness of 

jews. 437 

tile Israelites to pay homage to these foreign gods, and to 
consider the groves themselves holy, induced Moses to 
command them not to plant any trees near an altar of the 
Lord their God. Afterward, such localities seem to have 
been deemed allowable, amid the inconveniences of their 
unsettled condition, provided they were careful not to 
direct their worship toward any other object than the God 
of the Hebrews. But when the temple was built, the old 
caution against groves was renewed, and it was expressly 
forbidden to plant a sir gle tree on the mountain where it 
stood. The entire hill was considered holy ground. Any 
unclean action, immodest gesture, idle talking, or laughing, 
was deemed sacrilegious there. If a leper, or a person who 
had eaten unclean food, or touched the dead, or stepped on 
a grave, entered the court of the temple without purifica- 
tion, he was driven out and severely scourged. None of 
the Gentile nations were allowed to pass in farther than 
the outer court. All who came from a foreign land, even 
if they were Hebrews, were obliged to go through a process 
of cleansing before they were allowed to enter the sacred 
enclosure ; among these ceremonies were ablutions and cut- 
ting off the hair. Neither priests nor people were allowed 
to sit or lean within the precincts of the temple, however 
weary they might be. Only kings of the house of David 
were allowed to sit there. 

It was contrary to the policy of the Hebrew government 
to multiply temples, because the constant object was to 
consolidate the tribes into a nation, and there was no bond 
of union so strong as one central place of worship, and the 
habit of consulting the same oracle in all cases of emer- 
gency. Those at a distance from Jerusalem built courts 
for prayer, generally in high solitary places, but they 
always prayed with faces turned toward their Holy City. 
If they prayed within the circuit of Jerusalem, they always 
turned toward the temple ; if within the precincts of the 
temple, they always turned toward where the Ark stood. 
Three times a year, on the recurrence of great annual 
festivals, every man was required to go up to Jerusalem to 
Vol. I.— 37* 


present offerings to the Lord, and tithes to the priesthood. 
Both piety and pride bound the Israelites strongly to this 
centre of national worship. 

Moreover, the public services of religion were more in- 
teresting than they had been in the olden time. In schools 
of the prophets, poets composed songs for the temple, and 
music repeated them with its inspiring voice, on which the 
souls of devout listeners rose into high calm regions, far 
above the prosaic routine of external ceremonies. Solomon 
perfected the work his father had begun. Four thousand 
singers were employed in the service of the temple, to sing 
in courses, by turns ; and twenty-four bands of musical in- 
struments, each under the care of a presiding officer. Both 
men and women were employed in this service, for we are 
told of " damsels playing with timbrels" in religious pro- 
cessions, and it is recorded that Heman, a musician of the 
temple, had fourteen sons and three daughters, " all under 
the hands of their father for song in the House of the 
Lord." The service was hereditary, the duties and emolu- 
ments descending from father to son. 

When Nathan the prophet announced to David that the 
Lord had appointed his son to build a temple, he likewise 
told him that Grod had sworn to establish his family on the 
throne forever. This promise, so flattering to the king, 
and to the hopes of the people, was often repeated in songs 
for worship, composed by the royal troop of poets and 
musicians. David himself alluded to it in one of his latest 
compositions. When the temple was completed, and 
Solomon dedicated it with prayer in the presence of all 
Israel, he publicly reminded Jehovah of the covenant he 
had made with his father's house. The promise, thus 
strongly impressed on the popular mind, had a powerful 
and abiding influence. Their national greatness began with 
David, and all their future hopes were intertwined with his 
family and tribe. In seasons of darkest discouragement, 
there always loomed above the gathering clouds bright 
visions of a "lion of the tribe of Judah," destined to come 
to their rescue. No prophecy ever had such permanent 

jews. 439 

and extensive influence on human affairs, as that promise 
made by Nathan to the most popular king of the Hebrews. 

Yet Solomon seems to have soon forgotten the conditions 
on which that promise was given, viz. : that "the sons of 
David should take heed to their way, and walk before God 
as their father had done." Contrary to the Law of Moses, 
he married the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and 
took numerous wives from other foreign nation^. They 
" turned away his heart after other gods." " He went after 
Ashtoreth, goddess of the Sidonians ;" and on a hill before 
Jerusalem, he built places of worship for the god of the 
Moabites, and the god of the Ammonites. "Thus did he 
for all his strange wives, who burned incense, and sacri- 
ficed unto their gods ;" and he did this, it is said, notwith- 
standing the Lord God of Israel appeared to him twice, 
and told him that he should not go after other gods. 

A few fragments preserved in Sacred Books of the 
Hebrews are all that remain of the much-praised wisdom 
of Solomon. There is no contemporary history, by which 
we can judge how other nations regarded him. The na- 
tional mind, hitherto fettered by the limitations of pastoral 
life, doubtless began to expand somewhat under the pros- 
perous reigns of David and his enterprising son. The 
learned commentator, De Wette, says : "It may be main- 
tained with highest probability that literary productions in 
Hebrew scarcely extend beyond the period of David and 
Solomon. Here is the first sure ground in the history of 
the language." 

Solomon's reputation for wisdom did not shield him from 
popular dissatisfaction, which, according to the usages of 
those times, soon expressed itself in a prophetic form. An 
energetic man, named Jeroboam, had been appointed by 
the king to superintend certain public works. There was 
at that time a prophet named Ahijah, for whom the people 
entertained great reverence. One day, when he and Jero- 
boam met alone in the fields, the prophet seized hold of 
his garment and tore it in twelve pieces, saying : " Thus 
«aith the Lord God of Israel, I will rend the kingdom out 


of the hand of Solomon, and give ten tribes unto thee. 
Because he has forsaken me, and worshipped Ashtoreth, 
goddess of the Sidonians." Solomon was well aware what 
a powerful influence prophecy had on the minds of the 
people, and how naturally it tended to produce its own 
fulfilment. Therefore, as soon as this proceeding was 
noised abroad, he became suspicious of Jeroboam, and 
sought to slay him. He saved himself by escaping to 
Shishak, king of Egypt, under whose protection he re- 
mained till the death of Solomon. 

Kehoboam, the only son of Solomon, succeeded to his 
throne. His mother was of the Ammonites, and had 
always continued to worship the gods of her childhood. 
Therefore, it is not surprising that during the reign of 
Kehoboam "there were groves on every high hill, and 
images under every green tree." The people "provoked 
the Lord to jealousy with their sins ; and Shishak, king 
of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem, and took away the 
treasures of the House of the Lord, and the treasures of 
the king's house. He even took away all." But before 
that happened, the exiled Jeroboam had returned, and ex- 
cited ten of the tribes to rebel against their king. Hence- 
forth there were two kingdoms ; one called Judah, whose 
capital was Jerusalem ; the other called Israel, whose capi- 
tal was Samaria. Ahijah, whose prophecy excited this 
revolt from the idolatrous descendants of David, did not 
have his hopes fulfilled by the conduct of Jeroboam. For 
he also " made a house of high places," and set up two 
golden calves for the people to worship, saying : " Behold, 
O Israel, thy gods, which brought thee up out of Egypt." 
It is mentioned as one of his great offences, that " he made 
priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the 
sons of Levi." He likewise neglected some of the sacred 
days of the Hebrews, and kept the Feast of Tabernacles a 
month later than they did at Jerusalem. Writers belong- 
ing to the kingdom of Judah continually speak of him with 
great severity, as "Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who made 
Israel to sin." Yet, from what is recorded, it seems dim- 

JEWS. 441 

cult to determine which was the greatest patron of image- 
worship, Jeroboam, king of Israel, or Rehoboam, king of 

Of Abijam, son and successor of Rehoboam, it is briefly 
related that " he walked in all the sins of his father." But 
when his son Asa became king, a different course was pur- 
sued. He demolished all the images his fathers had made, 
and removed his mother from being queen, because "she 
had made an idol in a grove." " Asa's heart was perfect 
with the Lord all his days. And the silver, and gold, and 
vessels, which his father had dedicated, and which himself 
had dedicated, he brought into the House of the Lord." 
Yet it is said he imprisoned a prophet, " and was in a rage 
with him," because he reproved him for using gold and 
silver belonging to the temple, to sustain himself in time 
of war. 

From the reign of Rehoboam, there was continual war- 
fare between Judah and the revolted kingdom of Israel. 
The successors of Jeroboam did as he had done. They 
worshipped Baal and golden calves, and set up altars in 
groves. One of them, named Ahab, married Jezebel, a 
Sidonian, and built a temple for her god Baal, and sur- 
rounded it with a grove, and himself worshipped there. 
She persecuted the prophets of the God of Israel, so that 
they were obliged to hide in caves, sustained by bread and 
water, while four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal fed 
at the royal table. Among all the people, there were 
" only seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to 
Baal, or kissed his image." In time of severe famine, 
Elijah the prophet went boldly to king Ahab, and de- 
manded that the people should be gathered together at 
Mount Carmel, and that the prophets of Jehovah and the 
prophets of Baal should both be summoned, that the peo- 
ple might see which were true prophets. The prophets 
of each deity agreed to sacrifice a bullock, and he on 
whose altar fire came down from heaven and consumed 
the sacrifice, was to be considered the true god. It is said 
the prophets of Baal prayed to him from morning till 


evening ; but no fire descended on their altar. Bat when 
Elijah called on the Grod of Israel, fire immediately came 
down from heaven, and consumed the bullock, "and the 
wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the 
water that was in the trench. And when the people saw 
it, they fell on their faces, and said, The Lord he is Grod." 
Then Elijah commanded them to slaughter all the priests 
of Baal, and let none escape; and they did so. "When 
queen Jezebel heard what had happened to her prophets, 
she swore by her gods that Elijah should share their fate; 
and he deemed it prudent to escape and hide himself. 

Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, is described as the most pious 
and prosperous king of Judah, after the time of David. 
"His heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord, and he 
took away the high places and groves out of Judah. And 
the priests had the Book of the Law of the Lord with 
them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, 
and taught the people." However, when the power of 
Syria was growing dangerously strong, he combined with 
Ahab, king of Israel, to attack their common enemy ; and 
afterward he married his son Jehoram to Athaliah, the 
daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. The prophets did not fail 
to rebuke Jehoshaphat. On his way home from the wars, 
" a seer went out to meet him, and said, Shouldest thou 
help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? 
Nevertheless, there are good things found in thee, in that 
thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast 
prepared thine heart to seek God." " And Jehoshaphat 
went out again through the people, and brought them back 
to the Lord Grod of their fathers." 

His son Jehoram, and his grandson Ahaziah, when they 
succeeded to the throne, worshipped the same gods as 
Ahab king of Israel, with whom they were allied by mar- 
riage. They "made high places in the mountains of 
Judah," and commanded the people to worship there. 

Meanwhile political changes were fermenting in the 
kingdom of Israel. Elijah received a command from the 
Lord to anoint Jehu king of Israel, and instruct him to 

jews. 443 

slay the reigning monarch with all his family. So Jehu 
headed a rebellion, "and slew Ahab, and all his great 
men, and his kinsfolk, and his priests, until he left none 
remaining; according to the saying of the Lord, which he 
spake unto Elijah." Ahaziah, king of Judah, who was 
visiting his kinsman, the king of Israel, was slain also. 
Jehu at first professed to be a worshipper of Baal, and 
ordered a great sacrifice in his honour, to which his priests 
throughout the kingdom were summoned. But as soon as 
they were assembled, he ordered every one to be slain, and 
tore down the temple of Baal, and burnt his image. Yet 
he by no means fulfilled the hopes of Elijah ; for he mani- 
fested no faith in Jehovah, and publicly worshipped the 
golden calves of Egypt, which Jeroboam had set up. 

The kingdom of the revolted ten tribes had a struggling 
and troubled existence. They were enfeebled by civil 
commotions, and by frequent wars with Syria and Judah. 
When the powerful Assyrians attacked them little more 
than three centuries after David, they found Israel an easy 
prey, and they carried off the inhabitants into a captivity 
from which they never returned. 

The smaller kingdom of Judah, though they had Solo- 
mon's temple, and an established priesthood, were very 
unsteady in their reliance on Jehovah. Scarcely two kings 
in succession sustained his worship, and it was very evi- 
dent that>the popular mind was never really elevated to a 
genuine and strong belief in one invisible Deity. Pro- 
phets constantly taught that it was impossible for Grod's 
chosen people to meet with any disasters, unless as a pun- 
ishment for some sin they had committed ; and that the 
worship of foreign gods was great above all other sins. 
In times of prosperity, the people adored Baal and Ash- 
toreth, and kissed their hands to the stars. If famine or 
pestilence came, they ran back to the God of their fathers, 
and like terrified children inquired what they should do to 
abate their punishment. But as soon as the panic sub- 
sided, they resorted to the groves again, and the prescribed 
festivals in honour of Jehovah were neglected. 


Joash, the son and grandson of two idolatrous kings, 
began his reign at seven years old, an orphan, under the 
tutelage of the High Priest. He manifested his zeal for 
Jehovah's worship, by ordering funds to be collected to 
repair the temple on Mount Moriah, which had then stood 
about one hundred and thirty years. All the dedicated 
gold was to be used for this purpose, a tax was likewise 
levied on the people, and the priests were instructed to 
obtain voluntary donations. Seven years passed on ; the 
priests continually received contributions from the people, 
but the temple was not repaired. That the king distrusted 
the integrity of the priests, is implied by the fact that he 
forbade them to receive any more money. He ordered a 
box, with a hole in its lid, to be made and placed near the 
altar ; and whatever the people chose to give, they dropped 
into the orifice. At stated times the royal secretary, in 
conjunction with the High Priest, took out the money, 
counted it, and hired masons and carpenters to execute 
necessary repairs. After the death of the Pontiff, there 
was a feud between the king and the priests. It is not 
stated whether it was because he had doubted their 
honesty, or because they were offended with him for 
taking golden vessels out of the temple, to bribe the king 
of Syria, when he threatened to attack Jerusalem. It is 
recorded that he and his companions " left the House of 
the Lord, and served groves and idols." The Lord sent 
prophets to remonstrate with them, but they would not 
listen. One of these messengers was stoned to death, by 
order of the king, who was soon after assassinated in his 

Amaziah, his son, " did what was right in the sight of 
the Lord" in the beginning of his reign; but when he 
returned from a victory over the Edomites, he brought 
with him some of their images, and " set them up to be 
his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned 
incense unto them." 

Uzziah, his successor, " did that which was right in the 
sight of the Lord ;" and his son Jotham was also a pious 

jews. 445 

prince, who built a gate to the temple. But Ahaz, th6 
grandson of Uzziah, "sacrificed and burnt incense in the 
high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree." 
When the Syrians defeated him in battle, he worshipped 
the Syrian gods, and raised altars to them in every city of 
Judah, and every corner of Jerusalem ; giving as a reason 
that deities must be powerful who thus protected the 
people that trusted in them. Having been pleased with an 
altar he saw in Damascus, he caused one to be made after 
the same pattern, and placed in the temple at Jerusalem. 
He removed the twelve brazen oxen from under the great 
brazen tank ; probably because he needed the brass to pay 
the king of Assyria for helping him in the wars. Finally 
he shut up Solomon's temple, and made images of Baal, 
which he caused to be worshipped. The ceremony of 
passing through fire, as an emblem of higher purification 
than water, formed a part of the worship of Baal, who is 
sometimes called Moloch. Some suppose that parents 
carried children on their shoulders through the fire ; others 
think the priests led them through, or simply waved a 
child over the flame, to signify that he was consecrated to 
the God of the Sun. To avert some great calamity, child- 
ren were sometimes consumed as burnt-offerings to Moloch. 
King Ahaz caused his own son to pass through the fire ; 
but he could not have been materially harmed by the pro- 
cess, for he afterward succeeded his father on the throne. 
How completely the worship of images was mixed up with 
faith in Jehovah, is shown by the fact that the prophet 
Hosea, who lived in the reign of Ahaz, enumerates images 
and teraphim [household gods] among the desirable appa- 
ratus of a religious state. He prophesies sorrowful times, 
when "the children of Israel shall abide many days, 
without a king, without a prince, and without a sacrifice, 
and without an image, and without an ephod, and without 
a teraphim. .Afterward they shall return and seek the 
Lord their God." 

Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, endeavoured to lead the people 
back to Jehovah, giving as a reason that while the temple 
Vol. I.— 38 


on Mount Moriah had been shut up, their sons had fallen 
by the sword, and their wives and children had been taken 
captive. "He removed the high places, and brake the 
images, and cut down the groves." When he found the 
children of Israel burning incense to the brazen serpent 
Moses had made, he brake the image in pieces, calling it 
Nehushtan, which means a brass bauble. He opened 
Solomon's temple, and summoned the priests and Levites 
to sanctify themselves and the house, and make prepara- 
tions for a great public sacrifice. The people, in obedience 
to royal command, brought up to the temple seventy bul- 
locks, a hundred rams, and two hundred lambs, for a burnt- 
offering to the Lord. "And when the burnt-offering 
began, the song of the Lord began also, with the trumpets, 
and with the instruments ordained by David, king of Israel. 
This continued till the burnt-offering was finished, when 
the king and all present with him bowed themselves and 
worshipped. And Hezekiah rejoiced that God had pre- 
pared the people; for the thing was done suddenly." 
After that, proclamation was made, and messengers sent to 
all the children of Israel, wherever they could be found, 
to come up to Jerusalem to keep the great feast of the 
Passover. The neglect into which the laws of Moses had 
fallen, is implied by the statement, "for they had not done 
it of a long time, in such sort as it was written." The 
people flocked to Jerusalem in great numbers, and "the 
king gave the congregation a thousand bullocks, and 
seven thousand sheep ; and the princes gave one thousand 
bullocks, and ten thousand sheep ; and a great number 
of priests sanctified themselves. So there was great joy, 
for since the time of Solomon there was not the like in 

Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, reversed all his father had 
done. " He built up again the high places, which had 
been broken down. He reared altars to Baal, and made 
groves, and worshipped the host of heaven. He observed 
times, and used enchantments, and dealt with wizards, and 
set a carved image in the House of God." Afterward, 

jews. 447 

when he was in severe affliction, by reason of the Assyrian 
armies, he took the idol out of the temple, pulled down 
the altars he had built to foreign gods, and offered sacrifice 
and prayer to the God of Israel. But after his death, his 
son Amon set up the carved images again, and sacrificed 
to them. 

Josiah, son of Amon, succeeded to the throne at eight 
years of age, and it is said he even then began "to seek 
after the God of David." In the eighteenth year of his 
reign, he sent orders to the High Priest to count over the 
sums of money which had from time to time been dedicated 
to the temple of the Lord, and apply the sum to necessary 
repairs. His messenger returned and announced that the 
High Priest had obeyed the royal mandate, and had like- 
wise sent by him the Book of the Law, which he said 
had been found in the temple. It is a very singular fact, 
and one for which commentators are puzzled to account, 
that the pious young king seemed entirely ignorant of the 
existence of such a book. When it was read to him, and 
he learned that the worship of images was declared to be a 
great sin, which Jehovah was sure to punish with fierce 
anger, he rent his clothes with grief and terror. Hulda, a 
famous prophetess, then dwelt in the college at Jerusalem, 
and priests were sent to her, to inquire concerning the 
words of the book. She returned answer to the king that 
the Lord" would surely punish the people for burning in- 
cense to other gods ; his wrath was kindled against them, 
and would not be quenched. But she promised that he 
should not witness the evil, because he had humbled him- 
self before the Lord, and rent his garments, when he heard 
the denunciations of the Law. Yet if the chief magistrate " 
of the nation was ignorant of the existence of such laws 
against idolatry, the people surely were not likely to be 
better instructed than their monarch. Josiah forthwith 
commenced the work of atonement with great zeal. The 
image of the goddess Ashtoreth was brought out from 
Jehovah's temple, burned, stamped to powder, and strewn 
on the graves of those who had sacrificed to her. The 


horses and chariot of the Sun, which had been placed over 
the entrance of the temple, were taken down and destroyed. 
The groves were cut down, and human bones burned on 
the high places, that they might be so effectually polluted, 
no one would dare to approach them. From every corner 
of his kingdom, he hunted out all the priests " who burned 
incense to Baal, to the Sun and the Moon, and the planets, 
and all the host of heaven ;" and he slew them, and burned 
their bones on their own altars. He even carried his zeal 
so far as to send messengers into Samaria, to demolish the 
altars Jeroboam had erected. After this thorough purga- 
tion of the land, he commanded all the people to keep the 
Passover. The record states: "Surely there was not 
holden such a Passover from the days of the Judges that 
judged Israel, nor of the kings of Judah." "Notwith- 
standing, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his 
great wrath. And the Lord said, I will remove Judah out 
of my sight, as I have removed Israel." 

When the son of Josiah began to reign, " he did that 
which was evil in the sight of the Lord." Pharaoh carried 
him captive to Egypt, placed his brother Jehoiakim on the 
throne, and compelled the kingdom of Judah to pay 
tribute. Then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came 
up against Jerusalem, carried the royal family into captiv- 
ity, robbed the Lord's House of many treasures, compelled 
the people to pay tribute to him, and left Zedekiah, a third 
son of Josiah, to rule over them. Josephus states that 
king Jehoiakim went out of Jerusalem during the siege, 
and voluntarily resigned himself and all his family into the 
hands of the Babylonians, on condition that they would 
not burn the temple; "on which account, the Jews have 
celebrated him in all their sacred memorials, and his name 
has become immortal." But this is one of many instances 
in which Josephus states what is not to be found in the 
Hebrew Sacred Books. 

It is recorded of king Zedekiah, that he and the chief 
priests, and the people, all transgressed very much concern^ 
ing the worship of other gods, " and polluted the house of 

jews. 449 

the Lord, which he had hallowed in Jerusalem, and des- 
pised the words of his prophets." After a reign of eleven 
years, he ventured to rebel against the king of Babylon, 
who sent an army upon him, that slaughtered men and 
maidens, old and' young, without mercy. The walls of 
Jerusalem were utterly demolished, the temple and palaces 
burned to the ground, and nearly all the inhabitants, who 
escaped the sword, were carried captive into Babylon ; 
among these was king Zedekiah, who had his eyes put out. 
This memorable captivity happened four hundred and sixty- 
seven years after David, and five hundred and eighty-eight 
years before Christ. 

In the course of numerous wars, civil and foreign, the 
temple of Solomon was repeatedly robbed of its treasures ; 
but they were again renewed by offerings from devotees, 
according to their wealth and piety. Warlike weapons 
were thus dedicated after a victory, the same as in Grecian 
and Phoenician temples ; for it is recorded that Jehoiada, 
the High Priest, armed his followers " with spears and 
shields, that were in the temple of the Lord." Shishak, 
king of Egypt, robbed the temple only thirty-five years 
after it was built. Asa, king of Judah, took gold and 
silver from it, to pay the Syrians for helping him against 
the rival kingdom of Israel. Joash, king of Judah, took 
valuable offerings from the temple and bribed the king of 
Syria not to attack Jerusalem. Jehoash, king of Israel, 
attacked Judah, and carried off all the gold, and silver, and 
precious vessels, he could find in the temple. Ahaz, king 
of Judah, took silver, gold, and brass, from the House of 
the Lord, to procure help from Assyria, to fight against the 
Syrians. Hezekiah, his successor, being unable to raise 
sufficient money to pay the required tribute to the king of 
Assyria, was obliged to strip from the doors and pillars of 
the temple, the plates of gold, with which he himself had 
overlaid them. And finally, Nebuchadnezzar despoiled it 

A few of the poorer class of Hebrews, " vine-dressers and 
husbandmen," were left to till the soil of their conquered 
Vol. I.— 38* 


country, and a mild, just man, named Gredaliah, was ap- 
pointed to rule over them. Jeremiah the prophet was in 
favour with Nebuchadnezzar, because he had always ad- 
vised submission to him, in opposition to a strong party of 
his own countrymen, who favoured an alliance with Egypt 
against Babylon. He was offered his choice either to go to 
Babylon, or remain in his native land. He chose to take 
up his abode at a city called Mispah, and Gredaliah the 
governor received orders to protect him, and supply him 
whatsoever he needed. When the Babylonian army had 
gone, many fugitive Israelites, who had hidden in moun- 
tains and caves, came to Gedaliah at Mispah. He told 
them that whoever would cultivate the land, and pay trib- 
ute to Babylon, should be protected, and have assistance in 
rebuilding their houses and sowing their crops. The jus- 
tice and humanity of the governor rendered him generally 
popular ; but a near relative of the exiled king being in- 
vited with others to a feast, treacherously attacked Gredaliah 
and his Babylonian guards, and slew them. The infant 
colony, alarmed lest this murder should be revenged upon 
them, fled into Egypt. Jeremiah prophesied against this 
proceeding, but the people distrusted his advice, and he 
followed them into exile. Thus were the last of the Israel- 
ites banished from the land of Canaan. 



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